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Julian H. Steward, Editor 

Volume 3 

Prepared in Cooperation With the United States Department of State as a Project 
of the Interdepartmental Committee on Scientific and Cultural Cooperation 




For aale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Goyernment Frintinc Office. 
Washington 25, D. C. 


^CE U 



Smithsonian Institution, 
Bureau of American Ethnology, 

Washington, D. C, June 1, 1945. 

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a manuscript entitled 
"Handbook of South American Indians. Volume 3. The Tropical Forest 
Tribes," edited by Julian H. Steward, and to recommend that it be 
published as a bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology. 

Very respectfully yours, 

M. W. Stirling, Chie]. 
Dr. C. G. Abbot, 

Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. 




Preface xxi 

Acknowledgments xxiii 

List of contributors xxv 

The Tropical Forests : An introduction, by Robert H. Lowie 1 

Culture 2 

Bibliography 56 

Part 1. The Coastal and Amazonian Tupi 57 

The archeology of the Parana River, by Francisco de Aparicio 57 

Introduction 57 

Geographical setting 57 

Ethnographic considerations and conclusions 59 

History of archeological investigations 60 

Archeological sites 60 

Cultural remains , 62 

Bibliography 66 

The Guarani, by Alfred Metraux 69 

Tribal divisions 69 

Archeology of the Guarani area 73 

The Conquest 75 

Culture 80 

Bibliography 94 

The Tupinamba, by Alfred Metraux 95 

Tribal divisions 95 

Historical migrations of the Tupinamba 97 

Culture 99 

Bibliography 133 

The Guaja, by Curt Nimuendaju 135 

History 135 

Culture 135 

Bibliography 136 

The Tenetehara, by Charles Wagley and Eduardo Galvao 137 

Introduction 137 

History 138 

Culture 138 

Bibliography 148 

The archeology of the Amazon Basin, by Betty J. Meggers 149 

Introduction 149 

Sources 151 

Archeological regions 151 

Bibliography 166 

The Tapirape, by Charles Wagley and Eduardo Galvao 167 

Introduction 167 

Culture 168 

Bibliography 178 

The Caraja, by William Lipkind 179 

Tribal divisions and territory 1 79 

Archeology 180 

History 180 

Culture 180 

Bibliography 191 




The Turiwara and Arua, by Curt Nimuendaju 193 

The Turiwara 193 

Language, territory, and history 193 

Culture 194 

Bibliography 194 

The Arua 195 

Territory, language, and history 195 

Culture 197 

Bibliography 198 

The Amanaye, by Curt Nimuendaju and Alfred Metraux 199 

Language, territory, and history 199 

Culture 200 

Bibliography 202 

Little-known tribes of the lower Tocantins River region, by Curt 

Nimuendaju 203 

Introduction 203 

The Pacaja 203 

Territory and history 203 

Culture 204 

The Anambe 204 

History and territory 204 

The Tapiraua 204 

The Kupe-rob 205 

The Jacunda 206 

The Paracana 206 

History 206 

Culture 207 

The Mirano 208 

Bibliography 208 

Little-known tribes of the lower Amazon, by Curt Nimuendaju 209 

The Aracaju 209 

The Apoto 210 

The Pauxi 210 

Bibliography 211 

Tribes of the lower and middle Xingu River, by Curt Nimuendaju 

Geographic background 213 

Cultural summary 213 

Linguistic affinities 214 

Prehistoric peoples 216 

Historic tribes 217 

The Yuruna 218 

The Shipaya 219 

The Arupai 220 

The Curuaya 221 

The Tacunyape 222 

The Arara 223 

The Asurini 225 

Culture 225 

Bibliography 243 



The Maue and Arapium, by Curt Nimuendaju 245 

The Maue 245 

Introduction 245 

Culture 246 

The Arapium 253 

Bibliography 254 

The Mura and Piraha, by Curt Nimuendaju 255 

The Mura 255 

Tribal location and history 255 

Language 257 

Culture 258 

The Piraha 266 

Tribal location, history, and language 266 

The Yahahi 267 

Culture 267 

Bibliography 269 

The Mundurucu, by Donald Horton 271 

Territory and name 271 

History 272 

Culture '2-T^ 

Bibliography 282 

The Cawahib, Parintintin, and their neighbors, by Curt Nimuendaju. .. 283 

The old Cawahib 283 

The Parintintin 284 

Territory, language, and history 284 

Culture 285 

Indians of the Anari River region 294 

Territory and history 294 

Culture 295 

The "Parintintin" between the upper Tapajoz and Sao Manoel 

Rivers 295 

Indians of the Sangue River region 296 

Indians of tlie Bararaty River region 296 

The "Parintintin" between the Jamaxim and Crepory River? 296 

Bibliography 297 

The Tupi-Cawahib, by Claude Levi-Strauss 299 

Tribal divisions and history 299 

Culture 300 

Bibliography 305 

The Cayabi, Tapanyuna, and Apiaca, by Curt Nimuendaju 307 

The Cayabi 307 

Introduction 307 

Culture 308 

The Tapanyuna 310 

The Apiaca 312 

Introduction 312 

Culture 313 

Bibliography (See The Cawahib, Parintintin, and their neighbors.) . 

Tribes of the upper Xingu River, by Claud-Levi-Strauss 321 

Tribal divisions and history 321 

Culture 324 

Bibliography 348 



Part 2. The tribes of Mato Grosso and eastern Bolivia 349 

The Paressi, by Alfred Metraux 349 

Tribal divisions 349 

History 350 

Sources 350 

Culture 351 

Bibliography 360 

The Nambicuara, by Claude Levi-Strauss 361 

Tribal divisions and history 361 

Culture 362 

Bibliography 369 

Tribes of the right bank of the Guapore River, by Claude Levi-Strauss. 371 

Introduction 371 

Tribal divisions 371 

Culture 372 

Bibliography 379 

Tribes of eastern Bolivia and the Madeira Headwaters, by Alfred 

Metraux 381 

The Chiquitoans and other tribes of the Province of Chiquitos 381 

Tribal divisions and languages 381 

The Chiquitoan linguistic family 383 

History of the Province of Chiquitos 383 

The culture of the Chiquito proper 384 

The Manasi 388 

Language and habitat 388 

Culture 388 

The modern Churapa 393 

History 393 

Culture 393 

The sixteenth-century ethnography of the Chiquitos region. . . . 394 

Bibliography 395 

The Otukean tribes 395 

Bibliography 395 

Tribes of unidentified language, presumably Otukean 395 

The Arawakan tribes of Chiquitos 396 

Tribal divisions and history 396 

Culture 396 

The Chapacuran tribes 397 

Tribal divisions and history 397 

Culture 397 

Bibliography 406 

Little-known tribes of the upper Madeira River 406 

Bibliography 407 

The Mojo and Baure 408 

Tribal divisions 408 

History 409 

Sources 410 

Archeology of the Mojo region 410 

Culture 412 

Bibliography 424 



The Canichana, Movima, Cayuvava, and Itonama 425 

The Canichana 425 

Territory and history 425 

Culture 425 

Bibhography 426 

The Movima 426 

Territory and history 426 

Culture 426 

Bibliography 426 

The Cayuvava 427 

Territory and history 427 

Culture 427 

Bibliography 427 

The Itonama 428 

Territory and history 428 

Culture 428 

Bibliography 430 

The Guarayu and Pauserna 430 

Tribal divisions 430 

History 430 

Culture 431 

Bibliography 438 

The Tacanan tribes 438 

Tribal divisions 438 

History 441 

Culture 442 

Bibliography 449 

The Southeastern Panoan tribes 449 

Tribal divisions 449 

Culture 450 

Bibliography 452 

The Southwestern Panoan tribes 453 

Tribal divisions 453 

Culture 453 

Bibliography 454 

The Sirion6, by Allan Holmberg 455 

Introduction 455 

History 455 

Culture 456 

Bibliography 463 

Tribes of the eastern slopes of the Bolivian Andes, by Alfred Metraux. 465 

Introduction 465 

Chiriguano and Chane 465 

History 465 

Archeology 468 

Sources 469 

Culture 470 

Bibliography 485 

The Yuracare, Mosetene, and Chimane 485 

Tribal divisions 485 

Archeology 486 





Post-Conquest history 486 

Culture 487 

Bibliography 504 

The Leco 505 

History 505 

Culture 505 

The Apolista or Lapacho 506 

Bibliography 506 

Part. 3. Tribes of the Montana and Bolivian east Andes 507 

Tribes of the Montana : An introduction, by Julian H, Steward 507 

Introduction 507 

History and sources 509 

Montana culture and culture changes 515 

Bibliography 533 

Tribes of the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Montaiia, by Julian H. Steward 

and Alfred Metraux 535 

Arawakan tribes 535 

Introduction 535 

Tribal divisions and history 535 

Sources 541 

Culture 542 

Bibliography 551 

Mayoruna 551 

History 551 

Culture 552 

Bibliography 555 

The Panoan tribes of Eastern Peru 555 

Introduction 555 

Tribal divisions and history 557 

Sources 567 

Culture 567 

Bibliography 595 

The seventeenth-century tribes of the upper Huallaga River 595 

Tribal divisions 595 

History 597 

Ethnographic summary 597 

Bibliography 597 

Tribes of the middle Huallaga River 598 

Tribal divisions and history 598 

Sources 601 

Culture 601 

Bibliography 605 

The Cahuapanan tribes 605 

Tribal divisions and history 605 

Sources 608 

Culture 608 

Bibliography 614 

Tribes of the upper Maran6n River 614 

Tribal divisions 614 

History 616 

Ethnographic summary 616 



The Jivaro 617 

Introduction 617 

Tribal divisions and history 618 

Sources 619 

Culture 619 

Bibliography 627 

The Zaparoan tribes 628 

Introduction 628 

Tribal divisions and history 629 

Culture 639 

Bibliography 651 

The Cofan 651 

Bibliography 651 

Unidentified tribes of the upper Putumayo-Napo River region.... 651 

The Quijo 652 

Introduction 652 

History 653 

Sources 653 

Culture 653 

Bibliography 656 

Part 4. Tribes of the western Amazon Basin 657 

Tribes of the Jurua-Purus Basins, by Alfred Metraux 657 

Introduction 657 

Sources 658 

Tribal divisions 659 

Panoan tribes 659 

Arawakan tribes 660 

Catukinan tribes 663 

The Tupian family 664 

Culture 664 

Bibliography 686 

Tribes of the middle and upper Amazon River, by Alfred Metraux 687 

Tupian tribes of the upper Amazon River 687 

Tribal divisions and history 687 

Sources 691 

Culture 691 

Tribes of the middle Amazon 704 

Ethnographic data in Carvajal's account of the Orellana Expedi- 
tion (1542) 706 

Arawakan tribes of the left, middle Amazon 707 

Tribal divisions and history 707 

Culture 709 

Bibliography 712 

The Tucuna, by Curt Nimuendajii 713 

Habitat, history, and language 713 

Culture 714 

Bibliography 725 

The Peban tribes, by Julian H. Steward and Alfred Metraux 728 

Introduction 727 

Tribal divisions and history 727 

Sources 729 



Culture 730 

Bibliography 736 

Western Tucanoan tribes, by Julian H. Steward IZl 

Tribal divisions and history 737 

Culture 741 

Tribes of uncertain affiliation in the upper Putumaj-o region 747 

Bibliography 748 

The Witotoan tribes, by Julian H. Steward 749 

Introduction 749 

Tribal divisions and history 749 

Sources 751 

Culture 751 

Bibliography 762 

Tribes of the Uaupes-Caqueta region, by Irving Goldman 763 

Introduction 763 

Tribal divisions 764 

Tribal history 767 

Culture 769 

Bibliography 798 

Part 5. Tribes of the Guianas and the left Amazon tributaries 799 

Tribes of the Guianas, by John Gillin 799 

Introduction 799 

Tribal divisions 801 

The Arawakan family 801 

The Auakean family 804 

The Cariban family 804 

The Calianan family 813 

The Macuan family 813 

The Muran family 813 

The Salivan or Macuan family 813 

The Shirianan family 814 

The Tupian family 814 

The Warrauan family 815 

Linguistic family unidentified 815 

History 817 

Sources 818 

Archeology 819 

Culture 825 

Bibliography 858 

The hunting and gathering tribes of the Rio Negro Basin, by Alfred 

Metraux 861 

The Shiriana, Waica, and Guaharibo 861 

Tribal divisions 861 

Culture 862 

The Macu 864 

The Macu of the Rio Negro and Caiari-Uaupes River 867 

The Macu of the Urariocoera Basin 867 

The Macu-Piaroa 867 

Bibliography 867 

The Warrau, by Paul Kirchhoff 869 

Location, history, and sources 869 



Language 870 

Culture 870 

Bibliography 881 

Part 6. Culture areas of the Tropical Forests, by Julian H. Steward 

Introduction 883 

The basic Tropical Forest cultures 886 

The Guianas 886 

Northwest Amazon 888 

The Montana 890 

The Mura 891 

The Jurua and Purus River tribes 891 

The Mojos-Chiquitos area 892 

Tupian tribes 894 

The Marginal cultures 896 

Guiana Internal Marginals 896 

Northwestern Marginals 896 

The Western Submarginals 896 

Marginal tribes of the southern Amazon periphery 897 

Glossary 901 

Bibliography 903 



1. Brazilian and Paraguayan landscapes from the air 38 

2. The Peruvian Montana 38 

3. Ecuadorean and Brazilian jungles 38 

4. Landscapes of Venezuela and the Guianas 38 

5. Venezuela rivers 38 

6. Tropical Forest hunters and fishers 38 

7. With blowgun and gun in the Tropical Forest 38 

8. Tropical Forest agriculture and food preparation 38 

9. Plastic representations from the Parana River country 58 

10. Parana River area sherds 58 

11. Fingernail-marked Guarani ware 90 

12. Guarani and other pottery from Paraguay 90 

13. Tenetehara boys 138 

14. Tenetehara women and shaman 138 

15. Amazonian pottery from Counany 154 

16. Amazonian burial urns from Marajo 154 

17. Amazonian pottery from Marajo 154 

18. Amazonian pottery from Marajo and Santarem 154 

19. Tapirape ceremonies and house construction 170 

20. Caraja house and physical types 186 

21. Caraja types 186 

22. Caraja paddles, gourds, and basketry 186 

23. Mundurucu artifacts 282 

24. Tupi-Cawahib village life 306 

25. Tupi-Cawahib village life 306 

26. Tupi-Cawahib mothers and children 306 

27. Yaulapiti Indians in "woodskins," or bark canoes 346 

28. Yaulapiti women preparing manioc in pottery vessels 346 

29. Upper Xingu house frames 346 

30. Naravute and Yaulapiti Indians 346 

31. Upper Xingu Indians 346 

32. Aueto carrying bark canoe 346 

33. Upper Xingu Indians 346 

34. Fish-net dance of the Nahukwa 346 

35. Paressi life 354 

36. Nambicuara types 370 

37. Nambicuara and upper Guapore Indians 370 

38. Indians of the Pimenta Bueno River 378 

39. Huge trumpets of the Mojos region 410 

40. Tiboita and Mojo Indians 410 

41. Chiriguano pottery and urn burials 506 

42. Chiriguano Indians 506 

43. Chiriguano artifacts 506 

44. Wooden masks of the Chiriguano and the altiplano 506 

45. Yuracare Indians of the early 19th century 506 

46. Modern Yuracare Indians 506 




47. Chimane and Yuracare manufactures 506 

48. Panoan Indians of the 19th century 634 

49. Conibo Indians 634 

50. Cashibo and Campa garment types 634 

51. Montana ear, nose, and lip ornaments 634 

52. Montana pottery types 634 

53. Masco Indians 634 

54. Archers of the Montana 634 

55. Masco rack of pottery and temporary windshelters 634 

56. Acculturated Canelo Indians 634 

57. Canelo Indians 634 

58. Canelo Indians of the 19th century 634 

59. Zaparo Indians of the 19th century 634 

60. Jivaro Indians 634 

61. Scenes of Jivaro life 634 

62. Jivaro Indians 634 

63. Human heads shrunken by the Jivaro 634 

64. Tucuna objects of bark cloth 714 

65. Tucuna Indians of the 19th century 714 

66. Yagua and Peba Indians 730 

67. Yagua Indians 730 

68. Yagua village scenes 730 

69. Yagua house construction 730 

70. Yagua cutting and carrying logs for a raft '30 

71. A Yagua raft 730 

72. Yagua traps '30 

IZ. Yagua Indians preparing blowgun and darts '^^ 

74. Yagua blowgun '30 

75. Yagua textiles 730 

76. Yagua industries '^0 

n. A Yagua council meeting '^^ 

78. Yagua scenes ' ^^ 

79. Yagua Indians ' ^^ 

80. Coto Indians 746 

81. Bora drums and Witoto communal house 762 

82. Witoto carved wooden memorial figures '"^ 

83. Witoto bark-cloth masks and dance costume 762 

84. Witoto dance 762 

85. Bora types 762 

86. Witoto men and women in festive decorations 762 

87. Witoto types 762 

88. Witoto body painting 762 

89. Cubeo fishweir and manioc preparation 794 

90. Food prepartion, northwest Amazon 794 

91. House types of the northwest Amazon 794 

92. A Cawa house 794 

93. House types of the northwest Amazon 794 

94. Cubeo manufactures 794 

95. Cubeo baskets 794 

96. Cubeo mourning ceremony 794 

97. Cubeo mourning dance regalia 794 

98. Cubeo mourning ceremony 794 



99. Northwest Amazon drum and ceremonial objects 794 

100. Northwest Amazon manufactures 794 

101. Northwest Amazon manufactures 794 

102. Northwest Amazon manufactures 794 

103. Indians of the northwest Amazon 794 

104. Indians of the northwest Amazon 794 

105. Guiana house frames 826 

106. Guiana houses and villages 826 

107. Guiana houses 826 

108. Guiana house construction 826 

109. Fishing in the Guianas 826 

110. Panare blowgun 826 

111. Growing and preparing manioc in the Guianas 826 

112. Guiana industries 826 

113. Guiana Indians in the late 19th century 826 

114. Rucuyen Indians fishing and hunting 826 

115. Guiana women weaving and spinning 826 

116. Guiana weaving and woodwork 826 

117. Guiana household and camp scenes 826 

118. Guiana artifacts 826 

119. Guiana religion, dances, and burial 826 

120. Guiana cremation, curing, and ceremonialism 826 

121. Guiana costumes and transportation 826 

122. Guiana women 826 

123. Guiana types 826 

124. Guiana types 826 

125. Shiriana Indians 866 

126. Macu malloca and plantation 866 


1. Tropical Forest crafts 15 

2. Tropical Forest basketwork of lattice type 23 

3. Loom for manufacture of thick hammocks 25 

4. Parana River vessel with zoomorphic handles 64 

5. Guarani pottery from the Parana Delta 67 

6. Tupinamba palisaded village and camp 104 

7. Tupinamba headdress and ceremonial war club 105 

8. Tupinamba dress 106 

9. Tupinamba ceremonial objects 107 

10. Tupinamba and Guarani pottery 110 

11. Tupinamba burial and cultivation Ill 

12. Tupinamba warfare and cannibalism 121 

13. Tupinamba cannibalistic ceremonies 123 

14. Tupinamba cannibalism 125 

15. Tupinamba shamans wearing feather cloaks and carrying rattles 130 

16. Maraca and Marajo pottery 158 

17. Santarem pottery 164 

18. Caraja house frame 182 

19. Caraja wooden stool 183 

20. Caraja manufactures 184 

21. Caraja manufactures 185 

22. Caraja burial 188 



23. Caraja wax and clay dolls 189 

24. Caraja masks 190 

25. Yuruna wcxxlen stool 228 

26. Pottery from the lower Xingu 231 

27. Asurini weapons 232 

28. Arara trophies 237 

29. Shipaya painted decorations 239 

30. Lower Xingii wood carvings and manufactures 240 

31. Yuruna carved wooden toys (?) 241 

32. A Bacairi village 326 

33. Bacairi pubic covering 329 

34. Upper Xingu artifacts 330 

35. Upper Xingu wooden spindle whorls 332 

36. Pottery of the upper Xingu River 333 

37. Upper Xingu artifacts 334 

38. Bacairi house wall decorations on bark strips 341 

39. Bacairi wooden dance pendants 341 

40. Bacairi masked dancers 342 

41. Mehinacu and Bacairi masks 343 

42. Upper Xingu masks 344 

43. Paressi Indians 352 

44. Paressi decorated gourds 356 

45. Huari ax 374 

46. Guapore musical instruments 376 

47. Macurap pseudo-panpipes 377 

48. Huari bone flutes 378 

49. Artifacts from Chiquitos, Churapa Indians 387 

50. Huanyam pottery forms 403 

51. Itonama woman spinning 429 

52. Guarayii traps 432 

53. Guarayu carrying basket 433 

54. Guarayu and Chacobo fire drills 435 

55. Tiatinagua woman making cornmeal 443 

56. A "Cascara," or bark canoe, of the Caripuna 451 

57. Chiriguano fish dam in the Pilcomayo River 471 

58. Chiriguano and Chane pottery decorations 474 

59. Chiriguano and Chane manufactures 475 

60. Chiriguano pottery 476 

61. Chane calabashes 477 

62. Mosetene traps 489 

63. Mosetene hut 490 

64. Yuracare ornaments, whistles, and flutes 491 

65. Yuracare artifacts 492 

66. Yuracare stamps and combs 493 

67. Chimane dugout canoe 494 

68. Chimane and Yuracare artifacts 495 

69. Yuracare twined stick box 496 

70. Chimane woman spinning cotton 496 

71. Yuracare musical instruments 501 

72. Goto traps 518 

73. Montana pottery types 523 

74. Montana pottery types 524 


75. Montana pottery 52b 

76. Panoan (Chama) device for head deformation 573 

n. Panoan (Shipibo) mother and children 573 

78. Chama and Cahuapana utensils 576 

79. Panobo bowl, white and red 577 

80. Montana artifacts 579 

81. Panoan (Chama) walking aid for infants 584 

82. Decorative design from a Shipibo man's cushma 588 

83. Shipibo paddle 588 

84. Shipibo body painting 589 

85. Shipibo decorated weaving sword or batters 589 

86. Montana pottery types 589 

87. Artifacts of the Montana tribes 591 

88. Cahuapanan (Munichi) low platform bed 609 

89. Chebero and Aguano utensils 611 

90. Chebero pottery 611 

91. Jivaro platform bed 621 

92. Jivaro drum 625 

93. Quijo pot on stone pot rests 655 

94. Yamamadi fish trap 666 

95. Boats of the Jurua-Purus 667 

96. Houses of the Jurua-Purus 668 

97. Yamamadi shelter 669 

98. Ipurina loom 672 

99. Yamamadi manufactures 673 

100. Ipurind bark trumpet 678 

101. Ipurind tobacco container and inhaler 680 

102. Cocama platform bed 693 

103. Cocama pottery 696 

104. Witoto house 753 

105. Witoto drum 758 

106. Witoto taking snuff 759 

107. Spring-pole trap, Curicuriari River 770 

108. Northwest Amazon blowguns 771 

109. Poisoned arrow point of the Guariua, northwest Amazon 771 

110. Cumaca hut 774 

111. Baniva pottery Ill 

112. Northwest Amazon pottery types 778 

113. Cubeo engraved gourd rattle 790 

114. House decorations of the northwest Amazon 790 

115. Indian children of the northwest Amazon 791 

116. Tuyuca "Yurupary" feast 792 

117. Tuyuca "Yurupary" dancer 792 

118. Wooden cigar-holder, northwest Amazon, Tiquie River 794 

119. Guiana banabs, or temporary shelter frames 830 

120. Guiana house frames 831 

121. Caramacoto house 832 

122. Guiana wooden seats 833 

123. Guiana bark canoes 837 

124. Rucuyen woman spinning 838 

125. Guiana cotton cord making 840 

126. Guiana hammock making 841 



127. Guiana hammock making 842 

128. Guiana hammock making 843 

129. Guiana hammock making 844 

130. Manufacture of a Guiana (Warrau) ite (sensoro) hammock 845 

131. Guiana manufactures 846 

132. Guiana bead-apron technique 847 

133. Guiana bead-apron technique 848 

134. Warrau burial 877 


1. Areas of South America covered by Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the 

Handbook xxvi 

2. Archeological sites of the lower Amazon and the Guianas 150 

3. The tribes of Central Brazil (facing) 284 

4. The tribes of eastern Bolivia 382 

5. The native tribes of the Montana and the western Amazon Basin (facing) 508 

6. The post-Conquest expansion of Quechua into the Montana 514 

7. The tribes of the Guianas (facing) 800 

8. Cultural divisions of the area included in the present volume 884 


Conciseness is possible only when data are fully understood. Repre- 
sentation of cultural forms no less than of physical objects may be 
accomplished in a few incisive strokes if the outlines are clearly per- 
ceived, but when they are blurred or invisible the only recourse is to 
set down all fragments in the hope that further knowledge or study 
may reveal the true forms. Prolixness in the present volume is inevitable. 
Despite the comparative uniformity of the Tropical Forest cultures and 
their environments, the descriptions have required at least twice the 
space of the far more complex Andean cultures. This is explainable by 
the inadequacy of sources. Not over half a dozen of the hundreds of 
tribes have been described with the completeness demanded by modern 
ethnology. Information is largely from random travelers' observations — 
mention of a lip plug here, a cultivated plant there, a house type elsewhere. 
Compilation of all the information from the many scattered sources 
leaves the tribal pictures overloaded with minutiae, usually of dress, 
ornaments, and weapons, while the essential outlines of the cultures are 
not even suggested. The authors have, therefore, presented their data 
in some fullness rather than select or suppress detail in favor of broad 
patterns that can only be guessed and that, therefore, may prove to be 
fictitious. This emphasis on detail has led to division of the area into 
a large number of small groups — in some cases, individual tribes — with 
a consequent repetition of the commoner culture elements. At the same 
time, it gives the impression of capricious distributions and of bewilder- 
ing variety, for detached elements continually appear without any apparent 
relationship to the culture contexts. Further field work in archeology, 
linguistics, and ethnology, all desperately needed in the area, and com- 
parative studies of existing data should go far toward permitting a 
synthesis of these data in terms of ecological, historical, and configurational 

It was the original plan to include in Volume 3 all the Tropical Forest 
and Savanna tribes of southern and eastern Brazil, the Amazon, the 
Guianas, lowland Venezuela and Colombia, the Antilles, and Central 
America. It has become evident, however, that the tribes of Venezuela 
north of the Orinoco River and of the northern portions of Colombia 
differed from the peoples of the Amazon in many important respects. 
The Antilles, especially before the Carib invasions, shared some of the 
distinctive Venezuelan culture. Central America, though having greater 
similarity to the Tropical Forests than to the adjoining Andean or Mexi- 
can cultures, was strongly influenced by the latter. In view of these 
cultural relationships, it has seemed desirable to reserve Central America, 
Northwestern South America, and the Antilles for a separate volume, 



which will be the fourth of the Handbook. The present volume, therefore, 
includes only those Tropical Forest and Savanna peoples south of the 
Orinoco River. 

When preparation of this volume began, the culture areas were so 
imperfectly known that it was impossible to use them as a basis for plan- 
ning and assigning articles. Their determination had to await a com- 
parative study of the finished articles. Contributors were, therefore, 
requested to describe the tribes or regions that they knew from previous 
experience or for which they had access to the literature. The articles 
are arranged in major areas, corresponding to the five parts of the volume. 
But these are only in part culture areas. (Compare map 1, showing the 
coverage of these parts, and map 8, the culture areas.) Haphazard as 
the arrangement of articles may appear in hindsight, they place on record 
sufficient detailed data with information on the sources to provide guides 
to the essential facts about all the tribes. They are not exhaustive, however, 
and do not presume to supersede all previous works. Lowie's Introduction 
gives some hint of the richness of material to be found in original sources, 
and works such as Nordenskiold's comparative studies contain abundant 
material not recorded here. 

The articles differ widely in scope. Some, especially those on the 
Guarani, the Tupinamba, the Montana, the Jurua-Purus region, and the 
Guianas, represent a general survey of the literature and are broadly 
synthetic. Others, such as that on the Uaupes-Caqueta and Nimuenda- 
ju's large number of short articles on tribes south of the lower Amazon, 
are based upon much original field work as well as upon the literature. 
Still others, for instance the Tenetehara, the Tapirape, the Carajd, the 
Nambicuara, and the Tucuna, are essentially original reports of field work 
done by the authors of these articles. In general, tribes which are little- 
known through existing literature are treated most fully. 

Lowie has provided a general view of the Tropical Forest cultures in 
his Introduction, utilizing articles in this volume and various primary 
sources, such as Koch-Griinberg, Roth, and Nimuendaju, according to 
their adequacy in describing the diflFerent features of the culture. The 
Introduction is not a summary of the present volume, but rather a com- 
posite picture, with variations and their distributions noted only for the 
more important features. 

At the end of the volume, the editor has attempted to group the 
tribes described in tentative culture areas. This is based essentially on 
the material of the present volume. It shows some of those groups of 
elements which give the cultures their local character. 

This volume is written largely from the point of view of the aboriginal 
Indian, not because of any prejudice with respect to acculturation but 
because the anthropology of the area has traditionally been oriented in 
this direction. As Indians lived in an independent and primitive state 


in this area long after tiiey were subdued elsewhere — a half million or 
more wild Indians still inhabit the less accessible portions of it, some of 
them not yet contacted by Whites — anthropology naturally has directed 
its attention to recording the pre-Columbian cultures so richly repre- 
sented. As Indians became absorbed into the national populations, losing 
their cultural identity, they passed from the purview of anthropology. 
It is true that the changes in native culture wrought by missionary teach- 
ing, steel tools, Old World domesticated plants and animals, and other 
factors incident to the coming of the Whites and even of the Negroes 
are noted from time to time. But preoccupation with the aboriginal 
continues, and the very interesting processes of the Indian's assimilation 
of European culture have not been expressly reported. Though accul- 
turation in this area is not so compelling a practical problem as in areas 
such as the Andes, where the Indian culture is still a matter of some 
national concern, it is no less important scientifically, for distinctive 
processes are represented. 

Bibliography. — ^The bibliography of the tribes covered in this volume 
has been presented with a fullness commensurate with the need, for space 
prohibits inclusion of all items submitted by contributors. Where full 
bibliographies have been published previously, the present volume includes 
only sources actually cited in the articles, but where no large bibliographies 
are in print, every item submitted is included. The bibliographies are 
limited to literature cited in the case of the Montaiia, covered by Tessmann 
(1930) ; the tribes of eastern Bolivia, published by Metraux (1942) ; and 
the Tupinamba, also given by Metraux (1928 a, b). For the remaining 
tribes and regions, all items are included here, thus affording unusually 
complete bibliographies which probably omit only very rare or local 
sources and an imdetermined amount of archival material. 

A rich and virtually untapped source of information is the museums. 
The contributors have undertaken no museum research, believing that 
this should wait until after the war when there will be more time and 
easier transportation and when such European collections as remain may 
be studied. 

Tribal locations. — Because an unusually large number of tribes is cov- 
ered in this volume, the location of each by the nearest degree of latitude 
and longitude is given as an aid to finding them on the map. 


To the many contributors to the third volume of the Handbook the 
editor wishes to express deepest gratitude. Their fine cooperation in 
helping solve the many technical problems of coordinating the various 
articles has enormously lightened the task of preparing the volume. 
Special thanks are due Dr. Robert H. Lowie, Dr. Curt Nimuendajii, and 
Dr. Alfred Metraux for their generous assistance in the scientific editing 


of many articles besides their own, and to Dr. Gordon Willey and Miss 
Ethelwyn Carter for their consistent devotion to the innumerable chores 
necessary to the work. 

We are also grateful to the Central Translating Division of the De- 
partment of State and to the Strategic Index of the Americas for assist- 
ance in translating many articles written in Portuguese. 

Illustrations have been drawn from many sources. The American 
Museum of Natural History, New York ; The University Museum, Phila- 
delphia; the Museo Etnografico de la Facultad de Filosofia y Letras, 
Buenos Aires; the Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Belem do Para; the 
National Geographic Magazine, Washington, D. C. ; and the Museo de 
Ciencias Naturales, Asuncion, Paraguay, have generously permitted the 
Handbook to utilize photographs from their large collections. Special 
mention must be made of the large series of excellent photographs of 
the Yagua and Witoto Indians furnished by Dr. Paul Fejos of the Viking 
Fund, New York City. Other individuals who have kindly furnished 
photographs are Albert W. Stevens, H. E. Anthony, Llewelyn Williams, 
G. H. H. Tate, C. B. Hitchcock, Claude Levi-Strauss, M. W. Stirling, 
Max Schmidt, Charles Wagley, James Sawders, Curt Nimuendajii, Irving 
Goldman, Batista Venturello, and T. D. Carter, 

Julian H. Steward, Editor. 




Francisco de Aparicio, Museo Etnogrdfico de la Facultad de Filosojia 

y Letras, Buenos Aires, Argentina. 
Eduardo Galvao, Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 
John Gillin/ Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Duke Uni- 
versity, Durham, N. C. 
Irving Goldman,^ Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, Washington, 

D. C. 
Allan Holmberg,^ Rubber Development Corporation, Washington, D. C. 
Donald Horton, Columbia Broadcasting System Television, New 

York, N. Y. 
Paul Kirch hoff, Escuela Nacional de Antropologia, Instituto Nacional 

de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico, D. F. 
Claude Levi-Strauss, Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes, New School for 

Social Research, New York, N. Y. 
William Lipkind, Office of War Information, Washington, D. C. 
Robert H. Lowie^ Department of Anthropology, University of California, 

Berkeley, California. 
Betty J. Meggers/ Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, 

Ann Arbor, Michigan. 
Alfred Metraux,^ Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C. 
Curt Nimuendaju,® Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Belem do Para, 

Julian H. Steward/ Institute of Social Anthropology, Smithsonian 

Institution, Washington, D. C. 
Charles Wagley, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University, 

New York, N. Y. 


1 Present address: Institute for Research in Social Science, University of North Carolina, 

Chapel Hill, N. C. 

2 Present address : United States Department of State, Washington, D. C. 

* Present address : Institute of Social Anthropology, Lima, Peru. 

* Present address : Department of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York, N. Y. 
^ Present address : Department of Social Affairs, United Nations. 

* Deceased. 

'' Present address: Department of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York, N. Y. 


Map 1— Areas of South America covered by Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Handbook 
of South American Indians. Diagonal hachure, Marginal Tribes, Volume 1 ; stipled, 
Andean Civilizations, Volume 2 ; v^rhite, tribes of the Tropical Forests, Volume 3 ; 
vertical hachure, areas covered by Volume 4. These are not culture areas (see 
map 8). 




By Robert H. Lowie 

The Tropical Forest area centers in the Amazon region, but the tradi- 
tional "Tropical Forest" culture by no means coincides with the geo- 
graphical region indicated. In Im Thurn or Koch-Griinberg we constantly 
encounter the contrast between selva (pis. 1, bottom; 3) and savanna 
(pi. 4, center) without commensurate cultural differences. We must 
also reckon with cases of Forest peoples who migrated into new territories, 
retaining basic traits, yet losing others for environmental reasons and 
borrowing still other features from their new neighbors. The Chiquitos- 
Mojos peoples form a good illustration. The Tropical Forest complex is 
marked off from the higher Andean civilizations by lacking architectural 
and metallurgical refinements, yet outranks cultures with the hunting- 
gathering economy of the Botociido or with the moderate horticulture of 
the Apinaye (Ge stock). At the core of the area the diagnostic features 
are: the cultivation of tropical root crops, especially bitter manioc; 
effective river craft ; the use of hammocks as beds ; and the manufacture 
of pottery. 

The very wide distribution of certain traits in the area is correlated 
with navigation. Thanks to their mobility, the canoeing tribes were able 
to maintain themselves in the midst of boatless populations, to travel 
with ease over periodically inundated tracts, and to diffuse their arts 
and customs over enormous distances. The combination of this technologi- 
cal factor with natural conditions has produced the extraordinary leveling 
of culture ("acculturation" in German parlance) in this area. As Norden- 
skiold (1930 a, p. 1 f.) has stressed, northeastern Bolivia looks close to 
Peru on a map, but is separated by immense silvan barriers and by un- 
navigable watercourses, so that cultural differences obtrude themselves. 
On the other hand, the Orinoco and Amazon Basins are linked by the 
Casiquiare (pi. 5, center, left, and bottom). Accordingly, earthenware 
decoration in Santarem may precisely duplicate details from the Lesser 
Antilles (ibid., 16 f.) ; and the Macushi of Guiana no less than the Maue 
of the Tapajoz River sling a girl's hammock near the roof when she 
attains puberty. (Roth, 1915, p. 311 ; Spix and Martins, 1828-31, 2 :1,318 ; 
Bates, 1892, 2:405 f.) 


In so vast a territory, inhabited by diverse stocks, regional variations 
are naturally not effaced. Enclaves of ruder tribes impressed early 
travelers, as when Bates (1892, 1 :316, 327 f.) noted the isolated Mura 
of the lower Madeira River as nonhorticultural fishermen (but see p. 258) 
and the Arara as boatless nomads who grew no manioc (pp. 226, 230). 
On the other hand, significant traits — say, fish drugging, urucu and genipa 
paint, the couvade — have passed far beyond the traditional bearers of 
the Tropical Forest mode of life. Nor are features common to simpler 
tribes and to manioc-growing canoers necessarily derived from the latter ; 
in specific instances the reverse may hold (Metraux, 1928 b, p. 194; 
1928 a, p. 168 f.). 

Linguistically, we have to deal primarily with three major families, 
the Arawakan, the Carihan, and the Tupi-Guarani. The Arawakans were 
spread over the Antilles in 1492 and had recently entered the southern 
tip of Florida ; in the Antilles, they had been overrun by Cariban invaders ; 
in Guiana members of this family were their neighbors. The Mehinacu 
of the upper Xingu River, the Mojo of Bolivia, the Paressi of the Mato 
Grosso, the Tereno of the Chaco, the Goajiro west of the Gulf of Vene- 
zuela, and various groups of the Puriis and upper Ucayali Rivers are 
all Araivakan. The Tupi-Guarani are equally far-flung: the majority 
live south of the Amazon, including the Aueto of the Xingu headwaters 
and the Guarani of the Parana-La Plata region; but we find them also 
on the coast of Brazil, north of the Amazon (Oyampt, Emerillon) , on the 
Ucayali River (Cocama) , and even near the Andes (Chiriguano) . Of 
lesser, but still considerable range, are the Caribans, who turn up near 
the Xingu sources {Bacdiri), but most typically jostle Arawakans in 
Guiana and the West Indies. 

Two other families are the Tucanoan (Betoya) in the Vaupes 
(Uaupes)-Yapura-Rio Negro district and the Panoan, whose repre- 
sentatives live on the Ucayali, the Javari, the upper Jurua, and the Madeira 
Rivers. The Tucano of the Caiari-Vaupes River are typical of the 
Tucanoans ; the Conibo on the Ucayali River and the Chacobo Indians 
west of the Mamore-Guapore confluence, of the Panoans. The Witoto, 
between the upper Yapura and the Putumayo Rivers, form a distinct 
linguistic family. "Miranya," like "Digger Indian" in the United States, 
designates no fixed unit, but various unrelated tribes ranging between 
the Caqueta and the Putumayo Rivers (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, p. 393; 
also, this volume, p. 155). The Yuracare along the upper reaches of 
western affluents of the Mamore River in eastern Bolivia are a linguisti- 
cally isolated Forest people. 



Agriculture. — The distinctive achievement of the area is the domestica- 
tion and cultivation of tropical root crops (see Sauer, Handbook, vol. 6) — 

Vol. 3] 


bitter and sweet manioc, sweet potatoes, cara, and arrowroot — of which 
the poisonous bitter manioc is most important, though it is not known 
to all tribes. Seed crops are secondary, but virtually all tribes grow 
several varieties of maize. In the marginal region of the Guapore River, 
maize and peanuts are the staples, manioc becoming secondary (p. 372). 
Indeed, the Nambicuara follow a seasonally alternating pattern, raising 
manioc and other crops during the rains, but otherwise practicing a 
hunting-gathering economy with the usual sexual division of labor 
(pp. 362-363). Native American fruits, particularly palms, are widely 
cultivated, but have spread greatly since the Conquest, as have bananas, 
sugarcane, and other Old World crops. Indigenous cultivated plants 
also include dyes, fish drugs, coca (near the Andes), tobacco, cotton, 
and arrow canes or reeds. The domesticated plants and their distribu- 
tions are given in the following list. 

Cultivated plants of 
Faod Plants 

*Manioc, cassava (Manihot utilissima) : 
Sweet variety (ay pi) : yuca, 

macaxeira, macaxera. 
Bitter variety : mandioca, maniva, 


*Sweet potato, camote (Ipomoea 

*Yam, cara, carahu (Dioscorea sp.). 

*Yautia, malanga, mangareto, mangara 

(Xanthosoma sagittifolium) . 
*Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) . 

Maize {Zea mays). 

*Cashew, cajui (Anacardimn 

*Peanut (Arachis hypogaea). 
*Kidney bean {P has eolus vulgaris). 

the Tropical Forests^ 

Occurrence and use 

Aboriginal throughout the Tropical 

Aboriginal to the Guianas, south to the 
Gtiarani and Tupinamha, southwest 
to the Mojo and Caripuna, little in the 
Jurua-Purus region; west to the 
Tucano and Tucanoans, except the 
Encahellado, but none among other 
tribes of Peru and Ecuador. 

Aboriginal throughout the Tropical 
Forests and Savannas. 

The true yam is an old world domesti- 
cate, but wild species of Dioscorea 
occur in Brazil, some of them perhaps 
domesticated, especially cara, grown 
throughout the Amazon Basin. 

Various native species, being the Ameri- 
can equivalent of taro. Brazil, Guianas. 

Brazil, Guianas; recent in the Uaupes- 
Caqueta region. 

An aboriginal staple throughout the 
Tropical Forests, most tribes having 
many varieties. 

Aboriginal to Brazil. Anacardium micro- 
carpum bark is used for canoes. 

Aboriginal throughout Tropical Forests. 

Aboriginal; probably widely distributed 
but rarely identified with certainty in 
the Tropical Forests. 

1 Starred items are discussed in "Cultivated plants of Central and South America," by Carl Sauer, 
in Volume 6 of the Handbook, and their identifications conform with Sauer's. 


[B.A.B. Bull. 143 


Food Plants — Continued 
*Lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus). 

*Jack bean (Canavalia ensiformis). 
*Squash (Cucurbita). 

*Papaya, mamoeiro (Carica papaya). 

*Surinam cherry (Eugenia unifora). 

*Lucutna obovata. 

*Guayaba, guava (Psidium guajava). 

♦Pineapple {Ananas sativus). 

*Banana (Mtisa paradisiaca sapicntmn) . 

*Plantain (Musa paradisiaca normalis). 


*Sicana {Sicana odorifcra). 

* Avocado, abacate {Per sea americana). 

*Pepper, aji {Capsicum) . 

♦Arracacha (Arracacia xanthorrhisa or 
esculent a). 
Hualusa {Colocasia esculenta). 

Castor oil, mamona {Ricinus 
communis) . 
*Chonta or pejibaye palm {Guilielma 
gasipaes) . 

Bacaiuva palm (Acrocomia sp.). 

Pupunha palm {Guilielma gasipaes). 

Caimito {Chrysophyllum cainito). 

Pepino {Solanum muricatum). 

Cacabo {Xanthosoma sp.). 
*Cacao {Theobroma cacao). 

Occurrence and use 

Aboriginal among Tupinamba, Maue, 

Apiacd, and probably many other 

Rarely identified but probably of wide 

native distribution in Brazil. 
Sauer (vol. 6) gives Cucurbita maxima 

as the aboriginal Andean species, 

which probably occurs also in Brazil, 

and C. moschata as the species of 

northeastern Brazil. 
An aboriginal fruit occurring among all 

these tribes though perhaps spread 

somewhat since the Conquest. The 

fruit is called papaya or manao. 
Aboriginal fruit of eastern South 

Aboriginal fruit of Brazil. 
Probably recently introduced to the 

Uaupes-Caqueta area and elsewhere. 
Probably aboriginal throughout the 

Tropical Forests. 
Probably Old World Origin (see vol. 

6), but not a staple throughout the 

Tropical Forests. 
Doubtful whether native America. 

Brazil, Montana. 
Montaiia ; Uaupes-Caqueta region. 
Aboriginal in Brazil, Paraguay. An 

unidentified species was grown in 

eastern Peru. 
Aboriginal (?) in Guianas; eastern 

Aboriginal, throughout the Tropical 

Aboriginal root plant ; Mojo. 

Upper Guapore River. 

among Tacanans. 
Upper Xingu River. 

Recent ( ?) 

Aboriginal in Amazon. This supplies 
both food and a widely used bow wood. 

Upper Xingu River. 

Jurua-Purus Rivers. 

Eastern Peru 

Eastern Peru 

Eastern Peru 

Aboriginal in America, but probably 
post-Conquest in Tropical Forests, 
where wild species were widely 

Vol. 3] 


Food Plants — Continued 
Frutas de lobo (Solanwn lycocarpum) . 
Mangabeira (Hancornia speciosa). 

Mamona (Ricimis communis). 

*Coca (Erythroxylon coca). 

Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). 

Plants used in manufactures 

*Cotton (Gossypium harbadense and 
G. hirstitum). 

*Urucu, achiote, bixa (Bixa orellana). 

*Genipa, genipapo, jenipapeiro (Genipa 

americana) . 
♦Calabash, cujete (Crescentia cujetc). 

Gourd (Lagcnaria siceraria). 

Reeds, cafia de Castilla, tacuapi 

(Arundo donax). 
Uba cane {Gynerium sagittatum). 

Rhamnidium sp. 
Coix lacryma-jobi. 
Razor grass (Scleria sp.). 

Drugs and Poisons 
Nissolia sp. 
Barbasco {Lonchocarpus nicou). 

Clebadium vargasii. 

Tephrosia {Tephrosia toxicaria). 

Occurrence and use 

Upper Xingu River. 

Upper Xingu River. Supplies latex for 

coaling balls. 
Upper Xingu River. 

Aboriginal in nortliwestern portion of 
Tropical Forests and northern Mon- 
tana; Uaupes-Caqueta ; Ipurina. 

Aboriginal to most but not all tribes of 
the Tropical Forests. 

Both species are aboriginal in the 
Tropical Forests, but the distinction is 
rarely recorded. 

Berry used for red dye. Aboriginal 
throughout Tropical Forests. 

Fruit eaten ; used for black dye. Ab- 
original tliroughout Tropical Forests. 

Aboriginal probably throughout the 
Tropical Forests. 

Aboriginal among many Tropical Forest 

Guarani. Arrow shafts. 

Aboriginal on the upper Xingu River. 

For arrow shafts. 
Shrub. Seeds used for beads. Guarani. 
Shrub. Seeds used for beads. Guarani. 
Aboriginal on the upper Xingu River. 

Sharp blades used for shaving. 

Herb used for snake bites, Guarani. 
A fish poison : Montana and probably 

elsewhere (see p. 518). 
A fish poison : Montana and probably 

elsewhere (see p. 518). 
A fish poison : Montana and probably 

elsewhere (see p. 518). 

A few tribes of the area, such as the Shiriand, Waica, and Guaharibo 
and the Macu of the Rio Negro formerly had no farming, but have re- 
cently adopted it from their neighbors. On the other hand, the Guayaki 
and the Mura have abandoned cultivation since the Conquest and subsist 
solely on hunting and gathering. 

The manner of clearing the forest for typical slash-and-burn agri- 
culture (pis. 8, top; 111, top; 126) is described on pages 99 and 825. The 
men make the clearings, the rest of the work devolves on the women, who 


plant, weed, harvest, and prepare the food. The Chiriguano, under 
Andean influence, have in the main mascuHne tillage. 

To prepare bitter manioc, the tuber is peeled, washed, and grated on 
a board set with spines or stones (pis. 89, bottom; 90, bottom; 111, 
bottom), the resulting pulp being typically crainmed by handfuls into a 
cylindrical basketry press (tipiti) with an upper and a lower loop (pis. 
90, top; 111, center). The upper loop is hung from a projecting house 
beam, while a strong pole is passed through the lower and put under the 
fulcrum made by tying a stick to a house post at an acute angle. A woman 
sits on the free end of the pole, thus extending the container and diminish- 
ing its diameter. The poisonous prussic acid thus squeezed out through 
the interstices of the basketwork is allowed to drip into a vessel. The 
purged pasty mass is shaken out as a snow-white, nearly dry mass, which 
is pounded in a mortar and passed through a sifter, falling on a mat. The 
resultant starchy whitish powder is either (a) baked on a clay grid into 
thin flat cakes, "beiju," or {b) prevented from consolidation by stirring, 
thus yielding an accumulation of small, dry crumbs, "farinha" pellets, 
like those of white bread. Of a morning an Aparai woman may prepare 
30 beiju — the weekly household supply; well-baked and dried, these will 
keep for a long time, as will the pea-sized pellets, so that both products 
provide serviceable traveling fare. (Speiser, 1926, p. 146; Roth. 1924, 
pp. 217, 277 ff. ; Im Thurn, 1883, p. 252, Further details on manioc 
preparation will be found on pp. 102, 200, 413, 450, 666, 772-773, 829.) 

Naturally, the processes varied somewhat locally. On the upper 
Amazon it was possible to plant manioc on the earthy banks without the 
necessity for a clearing (Bates, 1863, p. 210), and the period of matura- 
tion is variously given as 9 months, 10 months, or even 2 years. (P. 692; 
also Roth, 1924, p. 216; Im Thurn, 1883, p. 251; Koch-Griinberg, 1921, 
p. 334.) The basketry press obviously presupposes earlier developmental 
stages, such as are noted among the Witoto and on the upper Purus River, 
where muscular effort is required to wring the poison by hand out of 
a plaited sack. This may represent an earlier technique (Metraux, 
1928 a, pp. 104, 114 f.). It should be noted, however, that boiling is 
probably sufficient to drive off the prussic acid. 

The aboriginal implements included hafted stone celts for chopping 
trees, hardwood shovels, and pointed dibbles (Roth, 1924, p. 214; Koch- 
Griinberg, 1921, p. 334). The spade appears in the periphery subject to 
Andean influence {Chiriguano). 

Collecting. — Collecting wild fruits is naturally less important at the 
core of the area than among marginal tribes, such as the Nambicuara, 
the Siriono, the Shiriana, or the Macu. Nevertheless, a fairly long roster 
of wild species whose fruits and nuts are widely exploited for food 
appears in the following list. 

Vol. 3] 


Useful wild plants of the Tropical Forests^ 

Drugs and Poisons 

Assacu, possumwood or sandbox tree 

(Hura crepitans). 
Ayahuasca, cayapi, yage, huni, hayac- 

huasca (Banisteriopsis caapi, B. 

inehrians, and B. quitensis). 
Cunambi {Clibadium surinamense) . 

Curare, curari. 



Floripondia, huanto, campa, datura, 
borrochera (Datura arborea). 

Guayusa (Ilex sp.). 





Parica, yupa, niopo. 

Phyllanthus conami. 


Yoco (Paullinia yoco). 

Timbo (Paullinea pinnata or 

Serjania sp.). 

Foods and Manufactures 

Achua palm. 

Almecega (Tetragastris halsamifera). 


Anaja, palm (Maximiliana regia). 

Andiroba, Brazilian mahogany (Carapa 
guianensis) . 

Occurrence and use 

Widely used for drugging fish. 

A strong drug, used especially among 
tribes of the upper Amazon. 

See Ayahuasca. 

See Floripondia. 

See Ayahuasca. 

A small tree, the leaves of which are 
used to drug fish. 

A deadly poison, used generally for 
blowgun darts, made from a liana, 
Strychnos toxifera. 

The leaves of Mimosa aracioides, 
pow^dered and taken as snuff or as an 
enema for magical and therapeutic 

See Floripondia. 

A strong intoxicating drug, used espe- 
cially among tribes of the upper 

An anesthetizing drug, used in eastern 

See Ayahuasca. 

See Floripondia. 

See Ayahuasca. 

See Parica. 

The seeds of Mimosa acacioides, pow- 
dered and taken as snuff for a stimu- 

A fish drug. 

See Ayahuasca. 

A stimulating drug, used in Colombia. 

Fish drug. 

See Parica. 

See Burity. 

Resin used for lighting. 

A mulberry tree of the genus Cecropia, 
yielding various products. 

The shoots yield a fiber used in the man- 
ufacture of mats, baskets, screens, and 

The seeds contain oil used by the natives 
for insect bites and lighting purposes. 

^ The present list includes principally the plants mentioned in the present volume. A more 
thorough study of the wild-plant resources will be found in Volume 6 of the Handbook. 




[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

Foods and Manufactures — Continued 

Angelim (Andira sp.). 


Arrow reed (Gynerium sac char oide s) . 

Assai {Euterpe oleracea). 

Attalea huniboldtiana. 
Attalea spectabilis. 
Araucaria brasiliensis. 

Babassu palm (Orbignya speciosa). 

Bacaba palm {Oenocarpus bacaba and 
O. distichus). 

Bactrix maraja. 


Brazil nut, Para nut (Bertholletia 

Burity, muriti, miriti, achua palm 

(Mauritia flexuosa and M. vinosa). 

Bussu palm (Manicaria saccifera). 


Caju {Anacardium occidentale) . 


Camayuva cane (Guadua sp.). 


Carludovica irigona. 



Cedar (Cedrela angustifolia) . 

Cumarii (Coumarouna odorata). 

Cupuassu (Theobroma grandiflorum) . 


Occurretice and use 

Dugout wood. 

Anonaceae. Bow wood. 

Arrow shafts. 

A very common palm from the fruit of 
which a beverage of the same name is 

Palm with an edible fruit. 

Palm with an edible fruit. 

A pine with an edible nut in Guarani 

Widely distributed on the uplands, sup- 
plying an important edible oil from the 
hard kernels of its prolific fruit. 

Abundant througout the Amazon Valley, 
supplying cooking oils from the nuts 
and a drink similar to assai from the 
pulp of the fruit. 

Palm with an edible fruit. 

See Palo de balsa. 

Important food. 

Edible fruit and pith ; fibers used for 
cordage, clothing, hammocks, and 
roofing; trunk contains edible beetle 

The leaves, resembling those of a banana 
tree, make an excellent, durable thatch. 

A variety of cacao fruit. 

Edible fruit. 

The tree, Anacardium occidentale. 

Used for arrow shafts. 

Pigment from leaves of Bignonia chica. 

Basket material. 

A Brazil nut or cashew nut. Castanha 
de Para — Bertholletia excelsa, a cas- 
tanha or Brazil nut. Castanha sapu- 
caia — Lecythis paracusis, a nut from 
the sapucaia ; a paradise or cream nut. 

See Paxiuba. 

Tree used to make dugout canoes. 

A tree which yields the tonka bean, a 
source of vanillalike flavoring. 

A plant very closely related to the cacao 
tree, whose pulp is used as a flavoring 
or as a preserve, with seeds yielding 
a white fat similar to cocoa butter. 

A plant of the Bromeliaceae family 
whose leaves supply fibers used for the 
manufacture of hammocks and cord- 

Vol. 3 J 


Foods and Manufactures— Continued 

Curua piranga. 

Embira (Conratari sp.). 

Euterpe oleracea. 

Greenheart (Nectandra rodioei). 

Guarana (Paullinia sorbilis, P. cupana). 

Hymenaca conrbaril. 
lacareva {Calophyllmn sp.). 

Jabota {Cassia blancheti). 


Jauary {As trocar yum jauary). 

Jerimu, jerimum. 

Manga (Mangifera indica). 

Masaranduba (Mimusops excelsa). 


Moronohea coccinea. 


Nibi (Carludovica) . 

Oenocarpiis sp. 

Palo de balsa {O chroma spp.). 


Pau d'arco (Tecojiia sp.). 
Paxiuba, pashiuba palm, barrigon 
(Iriartea ventricosa) . 

Leopardwood {Brosimmn aubletii). 

Occurrence and use 

(1) A widely distributed palm (Attalea 
spectabilis) bearing oil-producing 
seeds ; (2) a palm (A. tnonosparma) 
whose leaves are used for thatch. 

The fiber is used for making hammocks, 
cordage, bowstrings, etc. 

A palm with an edible fruit. 

Seeds eaten. 

P. sorbilis seeds used as medicine ; P. cu- 
pana, to flavor a beverage. 

Resin used as pot glaze. 

Dugout wood. 

Common name of three species of trees 
of the Lauraceae family (Ocoiea 
megaphylla, Silvia itauba, and Silvia 
duckci) whose wood is excellent for 
making boats and canoes. 

A tree, the bark of which is used to 
make canoes. 

A tree, the bark of which is used to 
make canoes. 

One of the most common palms on the 
low varzeas, the folioles of which are 
used to make lightweight hats, the 
skin of the petiole to weave mats, 
sieves, manioc tipitis, hammocks, etc., 
the fleshy part of the fruit being used 
as an edible oil. 

The fruit of the serimuzeiro tree (abo- 
bora in the southern States). 

A mango, the fruit of the mango tree. 

A tree yielding an edible fruit. 

See Burity. 

The gum of this plant is made into a 

See Burity. 

A vine, used for basketry material. 

A palm with an edible fruit. 

A very light wood used for making 
rafts, often called "balsas." 

Brazil nut. 

Bow wood. 

The bark used for bedding and wall 
covers, the trunk for canoes, bows, 
flutes, etc. An unidentified species, 
called catizal, provides thorns for 
manioc graters. 

A bow wood. 



[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

Foods and Manufactures — Continued 

Pequi, pequia, piquia (^Caryocar 
villosum) . 

Protium heptaphyllum. 
Siriva palm (Cocos sp.). 
Tabebuia longipes. 

Urucuri palm (Attalea excelsa). 
Vismia guianensis. 

Occurrence and use 

These species are the largest in the 
Amazon Valley, attaining a diameter 
of more than 5 meters at the base of 
the trunk. Oleaginous seeds (50 per- 
cent oil) are contained within the 
roundish fruit, which is 45 percent oil ; 
the cooked seeds are edible. 

Rosin used for lighting. 

Wood used for clubs. 

The gum used as adhesive. 

See Embira. 

Any of several commercially important 
palms which yield textile fibers, and in 
some cases also edible fruits used for 
making wine; specifically, Acrocomia 
officinalis, Bactris setosa, and especially 
Astrocaryum tucuma, the tucuma palm, 
the leaves of which furnish excellent 
coarse fibers used in manufacturing 
rope, hammocks, hats, etc., and the 
nuts of which are used as blunt arrow- 
heads and as beads. 

Rosin used in pot glaze. 

Under the head of collecting also falls the gathering of such animal 
food as mollusks, caterpillars, larvae, and ants, some of which are treated 
as delicacies or relishes. Wild honey is easily secured from the virtually 
stingless species of the Meliponinae in the Orinoco region and is every- 
where a favorite food. The Guayaki largely subsist on honey, fruits, 
and other parts of the pindo palm and on the grubs of beetles. 

Hunting. — The relative importance and the purpose of hunting vary 
locally. Game, especially the peccary, is usually sought for food, but 
many species are taboo to various tribes. The Caraja hunt primarily 
to obtain feathers, while the Mojo are most interested in stalking the 
jaguar in order to win honors. Hunting is generally of secondary im- 
portance among the tribes of the major rivers, who obtain their protein 
more readily from fish, turtles, turtle eggs, and manatee than from forest 

Dogs are used in the chase, but were aboriginally absent in many tribes. 
As for hunting techniques, the Guiana Indians manifest virtually all 
the tricks adaptable to their fauna. They imitate the call of the tapir, 
deer, monkeys, and birds to allay their suspicions ; stalk deer ; fire the 
savanna grass and encircle large game in communal drives ; dig out 
armadillos from their burrows; or lie in ambush, screened by a shelter 
built on the ground or in a tree. On the Orinoco River the manatee is 


harpooned from a canoe paddled by the hunter's wife, while on the 
Amazon it is caught in a net and killed by driving a wooden plug up 
its nostrils. (See also pp. 258, 517, 827.) Among the Mojo, as in Mexico, 
Chiriqui, Haiti, and on Lake Maracaibo, ducks are familiarized with the 
sight of floating calabashes so that a swimmer wearing a headgear of cala- 
bash shell may catch the birds with his bare hands (p. 413; also Norden- 
skiold, 1931 b, p. 43). The Indians also use various snares, traps (pis. 72; 
112, bottom; figs. 52, 62), deadfalls, and blinds (pi. 114, bottom) ; some 
of these devices may be due to Negro influence. 

The distinctive hunting weapon of the region is the blowgun (pis. 7, 
left; 7Z; 74; 110, top) ; it is conspicuous in the western tribes of the 
Guianas, on the upper Amazon, and in adjoining districts, and it appears 
as far south as the Pawumwa of the Guapore River and in the gallery 
forests of the Province of Mojos. In many of these localities, however, 
it is recent, and it never reached the Tupinamba nor the tribes of the 
lower Madeira, Tapajoz, Xingu, and Tocantins Rivers. Its diffusion 
seems clearly to have been from the north or northwest, and, although 
availability of materials for its manufacture may have conditioned its 
local occurrence, its wide post-Columbian spread, as Nordenskiold has 
suggested, may have hinged on that of curare. Curare is the deadly 
poison which makes the slim darts eflFective and led various tribes to 
supplant their earlier spear throwers and bows with blowguns (Norden- 
skiold, 1924 b, pp. 57-64, map 7; also, this vol., pp. 33, 355). So rapidly 
and widely has the blowgun spread that Stirling (1938) has even sug- 
gested its post-Conquest introduction to the New World. 

The blowgun is used solely for hunting, never for warfare. 

The blowgun may consist of two complete tubes, one within the other; 
or of an inner tube within a case of two split halves ; or of a single tube 
composed of two split halves each carefully grooved and tightly strapped 
together. The length may be anywhere from 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 m.) 
or even 16 feet (4.8 m.). A sudden puff of breath applied to a small 
truncate mouthpiece forces out the dart, which is usually of palmwood 
the thickness of a knitting needle, from 9 to 16 inches (23 to 40 cm.) 
in length, and tipped with the poison. Curare may kill the quarry within 
a few minutes. A good marksman will strike his target at a distance 
of 120 feet (36 m.). The noiselessness of the procedure enables the 
natives to shoot from its perch one bird or monkey after another ; which 
explains their preference of the blowgun to firearms. Quivers are 
variously made: the Aiari River Indians make a basketry tube about 
17 inches (43 cm.) long and constricted toward the middle, the bottom 
being of wood or a piece of calabash. The lower part is externally coated 
with pitch, the rest with a finer plaitwork which displays the black and 
red meander patterns typical of the regional basketwork and also painted 
on pottery. Elsewhere, a section of bamboo is used. 


Since neither the requisite wood or cane nor the poison is of general 
occurrence, the blowgun and its accessories are traded over considerable 

However, the presence of the blowgun does not exclude the bow, which 
serves against larger quadrupeds even in the center of the blowgun area. 
Tropical Forest bows are notable for their great length — those of the 
Siriono are 9 feet (2.8 m.) long with arrows to match — perhaps neces- 
sitated by the common use of palmwood, especially chonta. The material 
for the stave varies locally, however; leopardwood (Brosimum auhletn) 
is traded between Brazil and Guiana. Among a few tribes, the median 
cross section is circular, but among most it is semicircular or flat. 

The bowstring is of wild-plant fibers, particularly tucum. Arrows 
nearly everywhere have cane shafts and five types of heads : (1 ) A large, 
lanceolate bamboo blade (pi. 6, left, bottom) ; (2) a jagged, rodlike point 
of hardwood, bone, or a sting ray, often with additional barbs; (3) a 
blunt knobbed head for stunning birds ; (4) several diverging points 
for impaling fish; and (5) harpoon heads for aquatic game. Additional 
types of limited distribution are whistling arrows, with a hollow nut 
on the tip, and incendiary arrows. Stone, being unknown throughout 
most of the area, is rarely employed for heads. 

To make an arrow in the Guianas, the barbed tip formerly was fixed 
in a slot tediously prepared by first drilling holes adjoining one another 
with a deer-horn tool, with which the intervening material was removed. 
Wedged in this groove, the bone was fastened with twine and cement. 
The shaft is of arrow reed (Gynerium saccharoides) , sometimes specially 
grown for the purpose. It is two-feathered if intended for the air, 
unfeathered for shooting fish. 

Poison is employed on arrow points much less commonly than on 
blowgun darts. Sometimes curare is used, sometimes other ingredients. 

As for the release, the Aiari River Indians hold the nock of the 
arrow between the thumb and index, the other fingers merely pressing 
against the palm of the hand. This primary release is noted for the 
Guianas, where Roth, however, also observed the string pressed upon 
by the index finger alone. The Arawakan Baniva (upper Orinoco River) 
draw their bows with their feet ; and on the upper Rio Negro, a nocturnal 
fish-hunter pulls his string and the extra short shaft with his mouth 
while holding his bow in his left hand and a torch in his right (Koch- 
Griinberg, 1921, p. 246). 

Recently, thrusting spears of wood tipped with lanceolate iron points 
are used against peccaries and jaguars on the upper Rio Negro. Anciently, 
the metal heads may have been preceded by quartz or jasper equivalents, 
such as occur archeologically in northwestern coastal British Guiana. 

Domesticated animals and pets. — Dogs are found among nearly all 
the Tropical Forest tribes, but their aboriginal distribution is open to 


question, despite their pre-Columbian occurrence in the Andes and the 
Antilles. Failure of the early chroniclers to mention them casts doubt 
on their antiquity in the Amazon area, but their general importance to 
the chase mitigates the conclusiveness of this negative evidence. At least 
in the Guianas and vicinity, the dogs seem to be cross-bred from the 
indigenous ones and European imports. The Nambicuara, however, 
obtained theirs from the Rondon expedition. 

Several tribes exhibit incipient stages of beekeeping. The Paressi 
keep bees (Trigona jati) in gourd hives (p. 351) ; the Macuna and the 
Menimehe, in a section of a hollow log tied to a house beam, and hanging 
6 feet (2 m.) above the ground (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, p. 385; Whiflfen, 
1915, p. 51). (For American distribution, see Nordenskiold, 1930 c, 
pp. 196-210.) 

The Muscovy duck (see Handbook, vol. 6) was kept under domestica- 
tion by the Guarani, and probably by the Tupinamba, the Mojo, and the 
Montana tribes. 

Pigs and chickens were widely adopted from Europeans, and, in the 
grasslands of the Province of Mojos, cattle. The Mojo had many cattle, 
but the Maropa were better herders (p. 443). 

As pets, the Indians keep all sorts of birds and beasts, including 
monkeys and agoutis. Women often suckle young mammals as they 
would their own offspring. 

Fishing. — Both nonhorticultural populations like the Mura of the lower 
Madeira River (p. 258; also Bates, 1892, p. 327) and many northwest 
Brazilian manioc growers were above all fishermen, and even elsewhere 
within the area the relevant processes were important. Of these, drugging 
was probably the most productive (pi. 109, top). Over a hundred narcotic 
species are known to have been applied, many of them in the Amazon- 
Orinoco region. (See Handbook, vol. 5; also Killip and Smith, 1931.) 
Perhaps the most graphic account is by Spix and Martins (1823-31, 
3:1063-1065), which states that large quantities of timbo tendrils were 
crushed and carried in boats along the surface of the water, causing the 
fish to become dizzy and to leap up or drift unresistingly till they could 
be shot or picked up by hand. 

Another widespread practice is to shoot fish with bows and arrows, 
(pis. 6, right; 109, bottom), a technique extended with detachable heads 
(harpoon arrows) to turtles (pi. 48, bottom). Fish spears (pi. 6, top, 
left) are also commonly used. 

Nets with sinkers had a very restricted distribution in pre-Columbian 
South America, and are lacking in our area, owing, no doubt, largely 
to the many trees and branches in the rivers that would render them 
useless. But dip nets (pi. 101, center) are widespread, especially on the 
upper Amazon, where they are made of tough tucum fiber. 


Basketwork is used in various ways to entrap fish. In very shallow 
water or mud an open-mouthed basket is thrown over the fish, which 
are extracted by hand through the orifice. Widespread is the use of 
creels and basketry traps. 

Weirs (pi. 89, top) and stone dams, combined with bailing out water 
from the enclosed area or with drugging, are often constructed with 
great care. 

In contrast to the Andean hooks of copper and gold, the fishhooks of the 
Amazon-Orinoco — if present at all — were of bone, wood, or spines. In 
Witoto mythology there is a reference to a naturally barbed hook made 
of a bat's elbow (Preuss, 1921, 1:71). Bait, which is also used to lure 
fish within arrow range, consists of berries, seeds, ants, spiders, etc. 

(For Fishing, see Roth, 1924, pp. 189-201 ; Koch-Grunberg, 1921, pp. 
242-257; Nordenskiold, 1924 b, pp. 86-102, maps, 8-11; 1922, pp. 

The habits of fish in the upper Rio Negro country locally necessitate 
an adaptive nomadism. Though the Indians of the Caiari-Vaupes dis- 
trict with its abundant supply throughout the year can afiford stability, 
the minor streams elsewhere dry up from December to March, so that 
the fish retreat to the main rivers and the natives must follow suit, ex- 
ploiting one locality after another until even larger species ascend the 
tributaries. For the 3-month migratory period the Indians provide them- 
selves with basketfuls of large dried manioc cakes. 

Food preparation. — The preparation of manioc cakes and pellets has 
already been sketched. After the starchy sediment of the expressed 
juice has settled, the water is poured oflF and boiled for several hours 
with peppers, being thus thickened into "cassarip." This somewhat 
acid broth may receive additions such as meat, small fish, or even ants. 
All animal food is boiled with water or cassarip, yielding the character- 
istic "pepper pot," meat being thus boiled daily by way of preserving it. 

Typical is the baking and smoke-drying of meat or fish, which would 
rapidly spoil in the humid climate, on a "babracot," i.e., a three- or four- 
legged stage (fig. 1, d, e; pi. 117, bottom, right). On the Orinoco, sun- 
dried fish are pulverized without removal of the bones, mixed with water, 
and reduced to a paste. In the same region a turtle would be placed in 
a pit in the ground and covered with sand, a big fire being lit on top. 
In Guiana and on the Amazon quantities of turtle eggs are placed on 
frames and dried over a slow fire or in the sun. The oil is extracted by 
trampling the eggs in a canoe and skimming it ofif the top. It is used 
for anointment, cooking, and lighting, and is a favorite article of barter. 

For mealing there are wooden pestles and mortars, the latter being 
sunk into the ground in Guiana and elsewhere so that only a few inches 
project above ground (pi. 8, bottom). The pestle, which has an ill- 
defined head, is here used with a grinding rather than stamping movement. 

Vol. 3] 



Figure 1. — Tropical Forest crafts, a, Mojo pottery grinder and mano; h, Chimane 
wood slab and stone mano ; c, Chacoho wooden trough and block for food grinding ; 
d, Bacdiri babracot; e, Chacoho babracot. (After Nordenskiold, 1924 b, maps 
16, 15.) 

653333 — 47—4 


The former use of stone querns, pestles, and mortars is proved by 
museum specimens in British Guiana (Roth, 1924, pi. 82). Nearer the 
Andes, a wooden grinding trough (fig. 1, c) is used instead of the mortar, 
but a flat stone slab (fig. 1, b) is employed by the Chimane. Pottery 
grinders (fig. 1, a) have been found archeologically in the Province of 

Women boil food, men bake or broil it. 

For griddles, naturally split slabs of granite and gneiss have been 
used even in recent times. More commonly the stoves are of clay and 
rest on blocks of the same material (pi. 90, center). Pots are similarly 
put either on stones arranged tripod-fashion or on three clay cylinders. 

Salt, though comparatively rare, is imported from other regions or 
obtained directly from saline incrustations in the savanna and from the 
ashes of certain palms (Roth, 1924, p. 221 et seq.). 

There are usually two main meals, in the morning and evening, respec- 
tively. Husband and wife in general eat separately. 

Geophagy occurs in the area, e.g., commonly in the Jurua-Purus region. 
The Caripii'na of Bolivia eat a salty earth. 


Dwellings and other structures. — The mode of settlement varies. 
Some houses are designed to accommodate single families, others to hold 
many families (pis. 30, top; 81, bottom; 126). One structure of either 
type may constitute a village, or several may be scattered in near proximity 
to one another or grouped to form a compact hamlet (pi. 106, bottom). 

Possibly a thousand Yuracare are spread over an enormous silvan tract, 
along the Chimore River and other affluents of the Mamore River, one 
or two families living by themselves, often miles from their neighbors. 
The primeval forest virtually starts at the rear walls of their dwellings, 
which are usually on sites affording at least provisional security from 
periodic inundations. Characteristic of many groups in the culture area 
is the large communal house of, say, 20 to 70 residents (Yecuana and 
Giiinau) ; Tupari (Guapore River) houses are said to shelter up to 35 
families, A Tupinamba village consists of 4 to 8 houses, each accommo- 
dating 30 to 200 families. Often a single structure, or a pair of this type, 
accommodates the entire population (Aiari River). Here, too, safety 
from the annual overflowing of the banks determines the choice of a site, 
which is also selected for proximity to potable creek water and for the 
fertility of the soil. Elsewhere other motives occur, such as security from 
attack or even availability of potter's clay (in Surinam), some Carib 
tribes allegedly clinging to the edge of savannas for the latter reason. 
The Palicur put up small clusters of habitations on safe forested islands 
rising from the savanna or on the savanna itself. Waterways connect one 
hut with another, but become unnavigable or even dry in midsummer, 


SO that visitors must cross series of long logs embedded in the mud. Along 
the Amazon River, Carvajal observed in 1542 that the houses formed an 
almost continuous village. 

Genuine villages are not wholly lacking even where normally the people 
live in one or two houses. Thus, the Macushi developed an original hamlet 
of two dwellings into an aggregation of 12, ranged in two streets, though 
this enlarged settlement, partly due to missionary influence, was reserved 
for festive use. The Guarani set four or eight rectangular houses round 
a central square plaza, with a double or even triple stockade enclosing 
the hamlet. Palisades are also attested for the Tupinamha (figs. 6, top; 
11, top; 12, lejt), the Guarani, Tuhi-Catvahih, and for some of the Guiana 
Arawak and Carib tribes. 

The two main types of dwellings differ according to their round or 
oblong group plan. Nordenskiold (1924 b, 3:24 et seq.) suspected the 
aboriginal character of rectangular houses outside the Andean region. 
Unquestionably right in contending that many native groups rapidly 
adopted the rectangular plan of White neighbors, he seems to have gone 
too far, for (Friederici, 1925, p. 53) there are sundry unexceptionable 
early references to oblong houses, e.g., near the Yapura confluence. 

As a matter of fact, several types must be distinguished. The Palicur 
anciently occupied beehive huts with walls and roof merging; a low en- 
trance was closed at night in order to exclude mosquitoes. Another form, 
shared by Arawakan and Cariban groups, has palm-leaf thatch covering 
two rows of elastic rods bent over to yield a pointed arch. Widespread 
(Taulipdng, Wapishana, early Mojo, etc.) is a conical roof on a cylin- 
drical substructure, which either remains unenclosed or is walled with 
bark, wood, leaves, or mud, all these variations sometimes occurring 
within the same tribe. When small, such huts have a single, low entrance ; 
otherwise there will be two doors on opposite sides, reserved for men 
and women, respectively. An important variant results when two or 
even three posts connected by a small ridge pole take the place of the 
single post terminating in the apex of the cone. The ground plan thus 
grows somewhat elliptical. However, one or even both gables may be 
made straight instead of rounded. Thus, there is a genetic tie between 
the circular and the rectangular forms. Indeed, on the Vaupes River, where 
Wallace saw houses semicircular in the back but otherwise parallelo- 
grams in outline, Koch-Grunberg found a wholly rectangular ground 
plan. Some of these houses are immense, one described by Wallace being 
115 feet (34'.5 m.) long, 75 feet (22.5 m.) wide, and 30 feet (9.1 m.) 
in height and regularly inhabited by about 100 persons, with three or 
four times that number on festive occasions. The doors are regularly on 
the gable sides. 

Among the simplest habitations of the area are those of the semi- 
nomadic Nambictmra, who most of the year content themselves in the 


wind-screens (pi. 37, center, left), resorting to palm-thatched beehive 
huts (pi. 37, top, left) during the rainy season, and of the Pirahd, who 
make only temporary, flimsy shelters. 

Pile dwellings are found among various tribes, especially in Guiana 
and vicinity, not only on the coast or in the swampy Warrau country, but 
also far in the interior, on dry and even hilly terrain. Koch-Griinberg 
(1923 a, 3 : 23) and Nordenskiold (1920, p. 4 f.) suggest that these struc- 
tures are survivals from a period when their builders inhabited swampy or 
coastal districts. Granaries on piles occur among the Chiriguano. 

The impermanence of settlement in a particular locality is usually 
owing to the exhaustion of the soil, but also to disease and death, 
especially that of a chief. Hence, the population of a tract cannot be 
directly determined by the number of house sites. 

Furniture. — From the time of Columbus' second voyage the hammock 
(pis. 101, right; 107, bottom), first noted in Santo Domingo as a regular 
contrivance for sleeping, has loomed as diagnostic of the Forest culture 
at its core, contrasting with the marginal Namhicuara custom of sleeping 
on the ground and the platform bed of the Ge and of the Montafia (figs. 
88, 91, 102). The hammock has, however, spread widely within historic 
times, being adopted for repose during the day rather than for sleeping 
at night (p. 833). It is made of cotton, ite (Mauritia), tucum, and other 

Another household article is a low stool or bench carved from one 
solid block (pi. 93, bottom; figs. 19, 122), frequently in the shape of an 
animal. The height may be over 1 foot (30.5 cm.) but sometimes does 
not exceed 3 inches (8 cm.). Special decorations appear on the shaman's 
settee. Simpler are the plain tripod stools cut from a root or a forked 
branch with little alteration of the natural growth. 

Utensils comprise gourd bottles for drinking water and larger ones 
for fermented beverages; calabashes; wooden troughs in the west; vari- 
ous clay vessels; mats; diverse baskets and basketry strainers (pi. 117, 
bottom, left). The finer treasure baskets rest on crossbeams, which may 
also support drinking gourds in bunches, carrying baskets, etc., some- 
times suspended from hooks. The only illumination is from the family 
fireplaces at night and from whatever light penetrates the narrow en- 
trance but for special occasions torches are made from a lump of rosin 
glued to the tip of a firebrand. 

Three stones or clay cylinders serve as a tripod for the cooking vessels 
in the Orinoco and Vaupes River country. 


Roads. — ^True roads are often wanting in the forest region, where the 
traveler breaks branches to guide him. Between Berbice and Essequibo 
the trail was barely 12 inches (30.5 cm.) wide and marked by notches 


in the trees. In descending walls of rock, crude ladders are sometimes 
made of rungs lashed to poles. Leaves and spars provide a sort of cause- 
way over swampy or muddy ground. The Mojo or their predecessors 
built up long causeways, each paralleled by a ditch or canal (p. 416). In 
Palicur country the waterways become unpassable in midsummer, hence 
long tree trunks are laid end to end in the mire to afford transit. 

In the upper Rio Negro country the Indians frequently pass from one 
river to another by following traditional trails affording an easy portage. 
Thus, the Tiquie River is connected with the Papury and even with the 
Yapura River (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, pp. 171-172). 

Bridges. — Bridges are simple, typically consisting of a tree of suitable 
height chopped to fall across the water and provided with a handrail. 
The Guaharibo build more complex bridges (p. 863). 


Clothing. — Originally the natives mostly went naked (pi. 6), as early 
17th-century observers noted for both sexes along the Oyapock River. 
A penis sheath or other cover, rather accentuating than removing the 
impression of nakedness, is widespread (Nordenskiold, 1924 b, p. 147 
et seq., map 19). Among the Cubeo and their neighbors in the Caiari- 
Vaupes region, women wear a tiny rectangular apron suspended from 
a cord of white beads (pi. 104). The men content themselves with a 
perineal band of red bast. On the lower Apaporis River a wide and long 
girdle of white bast is wrapped tight around the abdomen and fastened 
with a black strip of bast (pi. 104) ; and a girdle-cord supports a kilt of 
narrow bast strips descending to the feet. Usually part, and sometimes 
all, of the strips are pulled through between the legs and secured behind 
under the girdle, but those who wear the bast jock-strap customary on 
the Caiari River allow the kilt to hang down unconfined (Koch-Griin- 
berg, 1921, pp. 271, 380). 

When traveling over rocky tracts, savanna dwellers quickly make for 
themselves sandals from the bases of Mauritia leaves, the string being 
from the fiber of the leaves of this palm. More durable, but harder are 
equivalents of deer and tapir hide. 

The paucity of clothes markedly contrasts with the profusion of bodily 

Probably owing to Andean influence, the tribes of the western periphery 
of the area wear more complete garments — the cushma of the Montafia 
(pi. 49, bottom) and the tipoy of Bolivia. 

Featherwork. — Feather crowns were mainly of two types, according 
to whether the frame was fixed vertically or horizontally like the brim 
of a European hat, with the feathers inserted between its double edges 
and projecting in the same plane (Roth, 1924, p. 429 et seq., pi. 137). 
The foundation of the vertical type is a ring-shaped band with projecting 


rim above and often below also ; this band is basketwork, typically twilled. 
The feathers, fixed in rows on cotton twine, were woven into a cotton 
band tied behind and supported in upright position by a cotton fillet 
sewed to them in front. The Mojo, anciently noted for feather mosaics 
that realistically represented animals and men, still make impressive 
feather crowns (Nordenskiold, 1924 b, p. 205 f . ; 1922, pis. 27, 28). 

There are likewise feather frontlets, collars, and cloaks for men (see 
pi. 123) ; and at festivals the participants have small feathers or down 
glued on their body (Roth, 1924, p. 425). 

The Chiriguano came to supplant feather ornaments with frontlets of 
Andean type displaying metal plaques. 

Tattoo. — Complete tattooing is not widespread, but seems authenticated 
for the Cariban Trio, the Yuracare, Shipaya, and the Mitndnrncn (p. 275 ; 
also Spix and Martins, 1823-31, 3: 1312). The last had half ellipses 
on the face, with many parallel lines descending over the chin to the chest, 
which was ornamented with diamonds while the back also bore designs. 
But forearms of Wapishana and TaiiUpdng women have been tattooed in 
recent decades, and facial tattoo with conspicuous curvilinear patterns, 
often of fishhook shape, was common. The pigment, sometimes mixed 
with honey, was injected with a palm spine, the lancetlike fang of a certain 
fish, or a fishbone. Among the Tupinamba and many other tribes both 
sexes tattooed. 

In the Roraima region tattoo is associated with puberty and has magical 

Nordenskiold (1919 a, p. 120) has suggested that tattoo and genipa 
paint are negatively correlated. 

Painting. — Body and face paint (pis. 85, 86, 88) are widespread, the 
most common pigments being red urucu derived from the seeds of Bixa 
orellana and bluish-black genipa from the fruit of the Genipa americana; 
both species are cultivated by the natives. These pigments occur beyond 
the Tropical Forest culture, being popular among the Ge and traded into 
the Chaco. Another widely diffused pigment is carayuru, obtained by 
fermenting the leaves of Bignonia chica or boiling the water in which 
they are soaked. Genipa designs remain indelible for 9 days and more, 
which has led travelers to confound them with tattooing. Pigments may 
be applied for prophylactic as well as esthetic purposes (Roth 1924, p. 
88 et seq.). 

In the Roraima country the designs vary greatly and, apart from 
facial decoration, are executed by the women. Elaborate geometrical 
patterns appear, but also realistic representations of birds and mammals, 
as well as highly conventional forms of dubious significance (Koch- 
Griinberg, 1923, 3: 40-45). The Guarani and Yuracare apply body 
paint with a stamp (fig. 66, a, c, d). 


Miscellaneous ornaments. — An indefinite number of decorative de- 
vices occur, some being shared with other regions. Besides finger rings 
suspected of Negro or White origin and the feather decoration (p. 19), 
there are labrets for the lower Hp (as many as a dozen among the 
Mayoruna (pi. 51), whence their name, Barbudo) ; nose sticks; earplugs; 
crowns and frontlets ; necklaces and chest ornaments of teeth, claws, or 
seeds ; armlets of palm leaf, bark, beaded string, or cotton ; bracelets of 
bark, feathers, or seeds; belts of basketwork, cotton bands, fruit shells, 
or hair ; and leg ornaments. The calves of Carib women's legs are thrown 
into relief by pairs of tight-fitting bands of woven cotton around the 
knees and ankles respectively, as noted on Columbus' voyages. (See 
pi. 38.) 

Along the Rio Negro affluents, men generally wear quartz cylinders as 
neck pendants. These cylinders, about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm.) long 
and an inch (2.5 cm.) in diameter, are worn from a cord of palm fiber 
on which glossy, black seeds have been strung. (Roth, 1924, pp. 412-49; 
Koch-Grtinberg, 1921, pp. 205 f.) 

Ornaments of gold and silver were reported from the Amazon (p. 694) 
and from tribes in contact with the Andean civilizations. So was arti- 
ficial deformation of the head (p. 694). 


Carrying devices. — For carrying minor utensils there are various 
pouches, such as a small bark sack for coca and paint and a flat mat 
satchel. On the Apaporis River the men carry their fire apparatus, 
scarifying implement, and sundries in a rectangular bag knitted of palm- 
fiber string (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, p. 384). Throughout most of the 
area both sexes transport heavy loads in a basketry knapsack resting 
against the back and supported by a plaited tumpline passing above 
rather than across the forehead (pi. 121, top, right) ; the bearer relieves 
the pressure by thrusting his arms through lateral loops, which may be 
temporarily used to the exclusion of the head band in order to rest the 
neck and head. The carrying net, so popular in the Chaco, is generally 
lacking but appears among the Guarani in the extreme south, where, how- 
ever, skin bags seem to have preceded it. 

Infants are carried in a cotton baby sling made after the same pattern 
as hammocks. The sling passes over the mother's right shoulder (pi. 26, 
hft) and is pushed rearward by a woman when working in her planta- 
tion so that the child is then supported on her back. 

Boats. — Transportation by water is diagnostic of the culture at its core, 
especially in contrast to the Ge of eastern Brazil (Handbook, vol. 2), but 
many tribes living either between navigable rivers or on small streams at 
the headwaters of the main rivers lacked any craft. Thus, the Shiriand, 
Waica, Guaharibo, and Curicuriari River Macu, many tribes of the upper 


Napo and Putumayo Rivers and elsewhere along the eastern slopes of 
the Andes, the Mane, and the Nambicuara had no canoes. They crossed 
watercourses on logs or by swimming; some of the tribes constructed 
rafts. Many tribes which aboriginally lacked canoes, having kept away 
from rivers to avoid the strong, hostile tribes living along them, adopted 
canoes when White penetration brought peace to their country, and when 
steel axes became available to facilitate canoe construction. 

In general, Indians not only utilized natural waterways, but also skill- 
fully dragged their craft over rapids. Further, where the several tribu- 
taries of a river or the affluents of distinct systems approach one another, 
the natives have established traditional land routes or portages to eke 
out the connection by water. Finally, the Casiquiare River (pi. 5, top, 
right and bottom) links the upper Rio Negro, hence the Amazon, with 
the Orinoco River. Given the Indians' skill in coping with swift water 
and other obstructions, one easily understands the wide diffusion of 
many traits characteristic of the area not merely over the mainland, but 
even to the Antilles. Amazing similarities between these islands and in- 
terior districts (Santarem) have been emphasized by Nimuendaju, Nor- 
denskiold, and Palmatary (1939). 

The crafts used include simple rafts, often made of very light balsa 
wood (pi. 71; fig. 95, a), dugouts (fig. 67), and bark canoes (figs. 56; 
95, b; 123). 

After felling and rough-hewing a tree for a dugout, the Indians orig- 
inally applied fire at the top, gradually burning out the wood to an even 
thickness, then filling the hollow with water, and at the same time keep- 
ing up a gentle fire outside. In order further to widen the boat, they 
might insert crossbeams (pi. 94, top). A tvpical specimen measured 
33 ft. (10 m.) in length, 21 in. (53 cm.) in width, and 14 in. (35 cm.) 
in depth. On the Guiana coast, dugouts had a plank added along the 
side to form a gunwale. On long journeys a tent is added to protect 
the goods. Such substances as the bruised sapwood of the Brazil-nut 
tree (Bertholletia excelsa) serve for calking. Square sails of cotton, 
palm-leaf matting, or laths split from the leaf stalk of Maiiritia were 

Bark canoes (pis. 6, right; 27; 32) occur among some tribes of the 
Amazon Basin and the Guianas, where they are generally restricted to 
shallow water on the upper reaches of the streams. On the Berbice 
River the Indians generally make a single piece of the purpleheart (Pel- 
tngyne purpurea) bark into a canoe, and other trees are used elsewhere 
for the same purpose. A "wood-skin" of this type, which may be as 
long as 25 to 30 ft. (7.5 to 9.1 m.), holds 3 men with their baggage. 
Easily capsized, this craft has compensatory advantages — floating where 


an ordinary dugout could not pass, and being easily carried on the head 
over a portage. 

In very shallow water the Indians pole their boats; otherwise they 
propel them with paddles having leaf-shaped or circular blades and usually 
a crescentic handle. 


Bark cloth. — One center for bark cloth lies in northwestern Bolivia 
(Nordenskiold, 1924 b, p. 208 et seq., maps 28 and 30) ; another among 
the Tucanoans, Zaparoans, Jivaro, and Arawak of the upper Amazon. 
The industry characterizes none of the three major stocks of our area, 
but rather such marginal groups as the Witoto (pi. 83), Tucano, Campa, 
Yuracare, and Chacoho. The inner layer of the Ficus bark usually pro- 
vides the material, which is beaten out with a grooved mallet. (See pi. 
94, bottom; p. 779.) Among the Yuracare this craft is vital, producing 
men's and women's shirts, which are stamped with painted designs ; baby 
slings ; pouches ; and mosquito nets. Bast shirts are also typical of mas- 
culine dress among the Chacoho (Nordenskiold, 1922, pp. 60, 94, 95). 
The Tucano use bark cloth for mummers' masks and costumes and for 
images (pi. 64). 

Basketry. — The Shiriana, Waica, Caraja, and Guaharibo make only 
twined baskets, perhaps a survival of the earliest technique. (For twining 
technique, see pi. 95, bottom, right.) Twilling (pi. 95, bottom, left) and 
latticework (fig. 2) are very widespread. For Guiana are recorded such 

Figure 2. — Tropical Forest basketwork of lattice type, a, Common hexagonal weave 
of Amazon Basin; b, special lattice weave of Mate Grosso. (After Nordenskiold, 
1924 b, map 27.) 

additional techniques as checker, wrapping, and imbrication. (Koch- 
Grunberg, 1921, pp. 340-342; 1923, 3: 80-85; Roth, 1924, pp. 137-143, 
281-380; Gillin, 1936, p. 51 et seq.) Vines, palms, and other tropical 
species furnish ideal materials for this industry. The nibi vine (Carlu- 
dovica trigona) is split in half, then the convex outer surface is split 


off from each piece, yielding a flat, ribbonlike, flexible, and tough strip, 
which is scraped with a knife. 

Basketry articles (pi. 22) include mats, satchels, trays, creels, oblong 
basketry boxes with lids, two-piece telescoping containers, carrying 
baskets (pi. 6, left, bottom) manioc presses, and fans. Some utensils 
are in openwork, others closely woven, but in either case they can be 
waterproofed with broad leaves or pitch, the latter attested for Ama- 
zonian tribes by Acuna (1641). 

It is noteworthy that basketry is a masculine industry. 

The remarkable esthetic effects attained in basketry are treated under 
Art (p. 39). 

Weaving and cordage. — Since major garments are as a rule lacking, 
loom work includes mainly hammocks, baby slings, anklets, fillets, waist 
bands, and the like. (See Roth, 1924, pp. 92-118, 381-411.) Complete 
clothing — the tipoy, cushma, and, in some tribes, the poncho — is woven 
only near the Andes. In the eastern part of our area, cotton predominates, 
though not to the exclusion of other materials. It is grown somewhat 
less on the upper Amazon and its tributaries ; in the Rio Negro region, 
it is either lacking or little cultivated, and a term for the species is absent 
from the Arawakan dialects there (Nimuendaju, personal communica- 
tion). Even among tribes which cultivate cotton, there is sometimes a 
preference for wild fibers, which often better withstand heat and moisture. 
Favorite materials for thread are the fibers of burity palm (Mauritia 
flexuosa), from which a very fine cloth called cachibanco is made ; jauary 
palm (Astrocaryum jauary) ; curaua (Bromeliaceae) ; embira (Coura- 
tari sp.) ; tucum (the fiber of several palms called tucuma) ; Cecropia; 
and other wild species. On the upper Tiquie River, men make balls of 
tough cordage and trade them to alien tribes against curare. 

True loom weaving has a high, though incomplete, correlation with 
cotton. Probably the distinctive type, called "cincture," or vertical loom 
(M. Schmidt, 1914, 4: 214), is one consisting of two uprights perforated 
top and bottom to permit the insertion of cross beams around which the 
parallel warp threads are looped, the anterior and posterior ones being 
separated by a movable rod, while a thinner stick divides the even and 
odd threads (during the process of manufacture). When the fabric 
is complete, it forms a ring. (Fig. 3; pi. 115, top; also Nordenskiold, 
1919 a, p. 204 et seq. ; 1920, p. 174 et seq.). This loom is found in the 
Guianas, west to the Rio Negro, and south to the Yuracare of Bolivia. 
As it is common to several linguistic families, including the Cariban, 
Max Schmidt's characterization of it as "Arazvak" seems premature. 
Bordering the Andes, many tribes use a horizontal loom, the "belt loom" 
being most common. One end of the loom is attached to a tree or house 
post, the other to the weaver's belt. 

Vol. 3] 



Lacking a loom, tribes such as the Tucanoans, Witotoans, and most 
of the Tupl including the Tupinamba, finger weave, producing a twined 
fabric. Netting is restricted to the southern tribes. On the upper Xingu, 
netted hammocks and carrying bags as well as fish nets occur along with 
a twined and a true weave. 

Figure 3. — Loom for manufacture of thick hammocks. Upper Rio Negro country, 
Colombia. (After Koch-Grunberg, 1906 a.) 

Pottery. — Pottery is general, but by no means universally manufac- 
tured, earthenware being widely exported from centers of production. 
The Eastern Nambicuara completely lack the industry, and their congeners 
make very coarse ware. To some extent the industry naturally depends 
on the availability of good clay. The view that the Arawakans, unless 
checked by lack of such material, are uniformly the donors remains an 
improbable hypothesis (Linne, 1925, pp. 162-169). In eastern Peru, for 
example, Arawakan ware is definitely inferior to Pcmoan or Tupian 
(pp. 577-578) , and there is at present no basis for assigning the advanced 
Marajo and Santarem ceramics to the Arawakans. It is only in a few 
centers, such as the upper Rio Xingii country, that the Arawak have a 
monopoly of pottery making; and if the Arawak introduced elaborate 
wares to eastern Bolivia, there is no proof that they did so elsewhere. 

As a rule, women make earthenware, but among the Yecuana and 
Guinau, the industry is wholly masculine (Koch-Griinberg, 1923 a, 3 : 


For tempering, the use of sand, shell, and pounded sherds is rare 
within the area. Very distinctive, on the other hand, is the addition of 
the ashes from siliceous bark (Amazon Basin, Orinoco, and Guiana), 
reasonably assumed to have supplanted the earlier, less efifective use of 
sand. The proportion of bark and clay varies, presumably with the 
consistency of the clay, which on the banks of the Amazon would be 
unserviceable without a siliceous admixture. The Amazon and its afifluents 
form the center for the addition of burnt and crushed sponges found on 
the roots of riparian trees, the spicules greatly strengthening the material, 
as proved by Santarem ware (Linne, 1925, pp. 29-59). 

Coiling (pi. 62, bottom, left), the most widespread technique, is il- 
lustrated by the Rio Negro tribes. A vessel is coiled, smoothed with a 
bit of gourd, and finally polished with a pebble, which is often highly 
prized (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, p. 344). The potter next dries her vessel 
for several days indoors and then for an equal period in the sun. For 
firing, she inverts the pot in a shallow pit, where it rests on a few stones, 
surrounds it with light wood topped with dry bark, and exposes it to 
a strongly concentrated fire. 

Slip seems restricted to the Marajo-Santarem region and the Montafia. 
Varnish, made of rosin, e. g., from Vismia guianensis, or a copal, e. g., 
from the courbaril tree {Hynienaea courbaril), is applied in the Amazon 
Basin, and especially by the modern Carih in Guiana. Thus, the Barama 
Carib use a certain juice, mildly re-heating the vessel so that the gum 
melts and seeps into the pores. This also creates a glazed appearance, 
which vanishes with use. The Igana Arawak sprinkle powdered rosin 
or the milk of a tree over the painted designs, which thus assume a 
glossy varnish on firing. (Pp. 155-159; also Linne, 1925, pp. 141-154; 
Koch-Grunberg, 1921 p. 345; Roth, 1924, p. 133.) 

Painted pottery is best developed on the Guiana littoral, on Marajo 
Island, on the Tapajoz River, in the upper Rio Negro region, and in 
the Montafia and Yungas (pis. 15-18, 52; figs. 16, 17, 36, 60, 73-75, 111, 
112). The Chiriguano de luxe ware is outstanding for its painted decora- 
tion of Andean type, whereas utensils merely bear fingerprint decora- 
tion. Negative painting on vessels from Rebordello, on the lower Amazon, 
is noteworthy (Linne, 1925, p. 136). Painted vessels naturally are re- 
served for special use — storage, chicha containers, vessels for serving 
guests, and the like. Utility ware is generally plain and is decorated, 
if at all, with incisions and fingernail impressions. Modeled ware is 
found mainly on the lower Amazon, e. g., Marajo (pp. 155-159), where 
its high development surpasses what might be expected of the historic 
tribes. It also occurs on the Parana River (pi. 9). 

The craftsmanship in our area is indicated by the variety of forms, 
especially of nonutilitarian types. Cooking pots and water containers 
are widespread. Roasting pans, with elevated margin, and plates are 


well-developed in the northwest Amazon region. Vessels of unusual size 
are seen in chicha jars; these range from 3 to 4 feet (1 to 1.3 m.) in 
diameter and height in the Montana, to 3 feet (1 m.) high and 7 to 10 feet 
(2 to 3 m.) in diameter on the Rio Negro, where manioc-pulp bowls 
even attain a diameter of 10 to 14 feet (3 to 4 m.). The modern Palicur, 
though no longer capable of the fine urns of their ancestors, still make 
roasting pans for manioc flour, large drinking vessels, either conical- 
bottomed or with annular stand, double drinking vessels with a connect- 
ing bar, and a variety of clay toys representing turtles and other species 
(Nimuendaju, 1926, pp. 41-47). The coast of Guiana and northern 
Brazil generally abounds in oddly shaped effigy vessels ana in grotesque 
appendages of vessels (Roth, 1924, pp. 134—136). 

Amazing similarities in detail prove connections between Antillean and 
Santarem pottery (Nimuendaju reported in Nordenskiold, 1930 a). 

Gourds. — Calabashes (Crescentia) and gourds (Lagenaria) are of 
general importance as dippers, drinking cups, and storage vessels. In 
the Guapore River and upper Xingu region, where pottery is crude, 
calabashes abound and are decorated either with incised or pyrographic 
designs. The Barama Carib have hemispherical cups and containers 
closed except for perforations of the neck or shoulder. The fruit is 
picked when completely ripe, the shell cut according to the intended 
purpose, and the pap removed, sometimes after loosening it by boiling the 
whole gourd. The calabash is then dried indoors or in the sun until 
tough and hard. The gourd may be coated with the juice applied to 
pottery but lacks decoration. As a precaution against the entrance of 
insects, one gourd is inverted over the mouth of another or the opening 
is plugged with clean grass (Gillin, 1936, p. 49). Other Guiana Indians, 
as well as Amazon and Rio Negro tribes, sometimes embellish gourds 
in painting or incised lines. The halved calabash of the Rio Negro 
tribes is polished brown on the outside, varnished black within, and some- 
times bears incised decoration on the rim or the entire outer surface 
(Koch-Griinberg, 1921, p. 347; Roth, 1924, pp. 301-03). Pokerwork, 
though ascribed to the Kepikiriwat, Tariana, Macushi, and Wapishana, 
seems rare (Nordenskiold, 1919 a, p. 225 f.). Chiriguano gourds are 
artistically embellished with painted, incised, or pyrographic designs. 

Miscellaneous. — Fire making is generally by drilling (pi. 117, top; 
fig. 54). Various materials serve as shaft and hearth; and the Pomeroon 
Arawak have a compound shaft, the point from the fruit pedicel of a 
palm being too short so that it has to be tied to a longer stick. Moss, 
the debris from ant collections, cotton, etc., serve as tinder. To save 
eflfort the Indians keep fires burning, even carrying smoldering timber 
on an earthen hearth during boat trips. The Witoto facts are dubious, 
one authority denying to them any fire apparatus, another crediting them 


with a percussion technique, still another with drilling. Fires are activated 
with woven (pi. 47, top) or feather fans (fig. 78, a). 

For illumination the Guiana tribes have candles of rubber or cotton 
thread drawn through melted beeswax, or substitute gum and comparable 
materials (Roth, 1924, pp. 69-72). 

Rubber is probably derived from Sapium and Hevea species. Apart 
from use in ball games, it serves for the manufacture of rings and enema 
syringes. The Cayenne Indians boil the latex, then cover clay molds 
with several coatings of the boiled rubber, incise designs on it, dry it 
carefully over a fire, blacken it in the smoke, and finally break the molds 
(Roth, 1924, pp. 83-85; Nordenskiold, 1930 c, pp. 184-195). 

The Guiana Indians procure a glue from the gum of Moronobea 
coccinea, cutting into the trunk to make a yellowish gum exude, which 
is mixed with beeswax and powdered charcoal. It is either allowed to 
run as a semiliquid into a hollow bamboo or to harden at the bottom of 
a pot. This material serves to fasten arrow points, wax threads, and 
fishing lines, calking, etc. The whitish resin of Mimusops globosa also 
helps attach dififerent parts of an arrow and the stones of cassava graters. 
Feathers are glued to the body with various gums and balsams, which 
are also remedies for sores and other ills. 

In much of the area the lack or rarity of stone leads to the use of 
substitutes. Arrowheads are of wood, bone, and sting-ray spurs, the 
occasionally reported stone points being highly suspect. In Guiana, 
knives are sometimes of quartz and perhaps other stones, but there and 
elsewhere, they are typically of bamboo, fish teeth, etc. Scrapers are 
of snail shell, the lower jaw of an agouti, slivers of rock removed in 
celt-manufacture, etc. The preparation of the highly prized quartz 
cylinders worn by men in the western part of our area is very exacting. 
The material is obtained from the depths of the forest along the Tiquie 
River ; percussion with another quartz roughly shapes the rock, which is 
then ground on sandstone and polished with fine sand or pumice im- 
ported from the Amazon via the Yapura River. Months are required 
for this labor and for the ensuing perforation. The Indian, holding the 
cylinder with his feet, twirls a pointed palmwood drill on the quartz, 
adding fine white sand, but no water. At the commencement of the 
perforating process, the smooth, round quartz is tipped with a lump of 
pitch until the pit is deep enough to prevent slipping out. Several shafts 
are worn out during the process, having to be constantly resharpened 
(Koch-Griinberg, 1921, pp. 205 f.). 

The most important stone tools, however, are the celt and the grooved 
ax (pis. 70, top; 118, e; fig. 45). They are made either by grinding 
down fragments broken from rocks or by grinding down water-worn 
pebbles of suitable contour. In the Apaporis River country, the Indians 
obtain diabase blades ground by nature so as to be almost ready 


for use and requiring only the slightest supplementary grinding (Koch- 
Griinberg, 1921, p. 374). Roth distinguishes elongate, curved celts with 
a cutting edge at each extremity; small straight-edged blades with butt 
trimmed for hafting ; larger specimens with truncate butts and rounded 
cutting edges ; and narrow flattened celts with markedly pointed butts. 
The grooved axes have a notch above and below, ranging widely as to 
width; the butt may be either very convex or rather squat and square. 
The hafting technique is far from clear. In the rare cases amenable 
to direct observation the celt is fitted into an opening cut to correspond 
to its base and secured with resin. Roth (1924, pp. 72-79) surmises 
that the blades are often held in the hand; that the grooves of the axes 
may be intended merely for the twine employed ; and that the blunter ax 
may conceivably be fastened by a withy bent double and fixed with gum 
and twine. 


Mode of settlement, matrimonial arrangements, and government are 
all closely interrelated and separable only for purposes of exposition. 

Settlement. — In many of the tribes the settlement consists of one or a 
few communal houses (maloca). Such arrangements imply some measure 
of communism, e. g., the joint use of a fireplace for beer manufacture 
or of a large trough for grinding maize. The population bears no constant 
ratio to the number of houses: a two-hut hamlet on the Aiari River 
harbored some 40 persons, whereas other single maloca settlements on 
this river had a numerical strength ranging from 10 to 100. If neces- 
sary, each could accommodate twice or even four times as many (Koch- 
Griinberg, 1921, pp. 42, 45). A Mangeroma (Jurua-Purus) house was 
found to have 258 residents ; some Tenetehara and Tupiitamba dwellings 
had nearly 1,000 persons. 

In several districts (e. g., Tapirape, Caraja, Mundurucu, Chacobo) 
a men's club house is set off from the family dwellings. 

Matrimonial residence. — In the western part of the area, patrilocal 
residence predominates along with local exogamy. Koch-Griinberg ( 1921, 
pp. 114 f., 211, 309) would have us believe that Tucanoans and neighbor- 
ing Arawakan invariably take wives from other tribes, a Siusi girl marry- 
ing a Huhuteni or Kaus suitor, a Bara girl a Tuyuca man. It seems 
more probable that custom merely prescribes taking a bride from another 
settlement, irrespective of its linguistic affinity. Goldman (p. 780) found 
the Tucanoan Cubeo to acquire wives outside the village, members of 
which formed an exogamous, patrilineal sib. Certainly Preuss's Witoto 
"stamme" (1921, 1:11, 153 et seq.) suggest localized clans (Steward's 
"patrilineal bands," Giflford's "lineages") rather than "tribes" in ordinary 


In the Guianas, matrilocal residence prevails, coupled with bride-service. 
However, there are notable exceptions and qualifications. The Palicur 
have no fixed rule and regard an independent household as ideal (Nim- 
uendaju, 1926, p. 82). The Aparai, in contrast to fellow Caribans, are 
definitely patrilocal (Kirchhoff, 1931, p. 119). Frequently, the matrilocal 
rule is reversed for the chief and his eldest son (ibid., pp. 125, 190), as 
also holds for the Bacdiri (M. Schmidt, 1905, p. 437). Avuncular mar- 
riage for girls (see below) would leave both spouses in their natal village. 

Matrilocalism may be temporary (Macurap of the Branco River), 
or permanent. It cannot be considered a specifically Arawakan trait. 
Though the Locono exhibit it, it is lacking among the Wapishana. Of 
non- Arawakans, the isolated Warrau, the Cariban Tamanak, Macushi, 
Taulipdng, Rucuyen, Galibi, Kallinago, and the Tupian Siriono, Guayaki, 
and Chiriguano are temporarily or permanently matrilocal. 

Marriage rules. — Premarital license may be consistent with strict 
feminine chastity in wedlock (Roth, 1924, p. 560; Nimuendajii, 
1926, p. 81). 

Monogamy is reported for the Palicur as early as 1729. Elsewhere 
polygyny is often either a chief's prerogative (Caiari River) or is actually 
practiced mostly by chiefs and shamans, notwithstanding permissive 
polygyny for others (Roth, 1924, p. 685 et seq.). Polygyny is most 
commonly sororal (Trumai). Simultaneous marriage with a woman 
and her daughter by another husband crops up sporadically, being ortho- 
dox among Kuliseu River tribes, the Rucuyen, and sundry Caribans. 

Bride-service was frequent. Its obligations might be temporary, as 
among the Tenetehara (p. 143) or continue indefinitely, as among the 
Tupinamba, who, however, mitigated the husband's lot if he gave his 
daughter in marriage to her mother's brother (p. 112). In northwestern 
Brazil the groom offers presents to his parents-in-law, but the bride 
brings a dowry. 

Preferential kin and affinial unions are varied and widespread. The 
Cubeo prefer cross-cousin marriage together with brother-sister exchange, 
so that the symmetrical form of the custom is indicated. Cross-cousin 
marriage is also orthodox among the Nambicuara, whose nomenclature 
reflects the practice ; the Cashinawa; the Wapishana; and various Caribans 
of whom the Aparai favor the patrilateral, others the symmetrical type. 

The occurrence of avuncular marriage, sororal polygyny, and step- 
daughter marriage have been noted. 

Position of women. — The discordant evidence presumably reflects 
local differences: some sources describe women as their husbands' 
slaves, others as their companions, and among the Palicur they set the 
tone. (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, pp. 353 f.; Roth, 1924, pp. 683 f . ; Nim- 
uendajii, 1926, pp. 78 ff.) Since the Palicur are patrilineal, the status 


of women is obviously not a simple function of the rule of descent. Nor 
is it clearly correlated with particular linguistic families. 

Kinship usages. — Mother-in-law avoidance occurs among the Arawak, 
Carib, and Warrau of Guiana: a man must not remain in his mother- 
in-law's dwelling, nor talk with her, nor even look at her (Roth, 1924, 
p. 685; 1915, p. 344; Kirchhoff, 1931, p. 150). In the same region a 
man and his wife's father may converse on ordinary topics, but the wife 
serves as go-between in the conveyance of instructions (Roth, 1915, 
p. 200). Among the Tupinamba a newly wed man and his father-in- 
law display mutual bashfulness (Kirchhoff, 1931, p. 183). 

Among the Shipaya a lifelong bond of solidarity is sometimes created 
between two individuals on the occasion of a ceremony. 

Unilateral and bilateral units. — Instead of unilateral types of unit 
many tribes have territorial groups embracing both blood-kinsfolk and 
outsiders — especially in-laws — who have come to join them. This type 
of unit is Kirchhoff's "extended family" (Grossfamilie). 

However, unilateral systems are not rare, but not one of the three 
major stocks presents a uniform social organization. It is true that the 
Caribans present no authenticated case of exogamy with matrilineal 
descent, which in some tribes is indeed precluded by avuncular marriage 
(Tamanac and Macushi) ; most of them seem to have loose extended 
families, but patrilineal reckoning may occur in some cases. Of the 
Arazvakans, the Locono and the Goajiro (Handbook, vol. 4) have each 
a large number of matrilineal clans, which probably holds for the Antillean 
congeners. On the other hand, the western Arawakans lack the trait, 
and even in the east the Palicur have seven patrilineal clans (Nimuendaju, 
1926, pp. 22 et seq., 86, 132) ranged in moieties. Of the Tupians, on 
the Rio Branco, the Ariia have matrilineal, the Makurap patrilineal 
descent, the latter also holding for the Witoto and the Mimdnrucu, which 
latter have exogamic moieties divided into clans. The Tupinamba may 
conceivably have had a patrilineal organization, but certainly not matri- 
lineal clans in view of the orthodoxy of avuncular marriage. 

Turning to other stocks, the Jabuti (Rio Branco), the Tucanoans 
(Cubeo), and the Tucunu are patrilineal. 

Besides the Palicur and Mundurucu, the Kepikiriwat (Gi-Parana 
River) also have moieties, but apparently only for ceremonial ball games. 
Only the Mundurucu moieties are definitely known to be exogamous 
(p. 277) ; on the other hand, the feature belongs to the three Cubeo 
phratries. The nameless Cubeo phratries own land and unite periodically 
for a men's initiation ceremony and for the recital of origin myths (pp. 780- 
781). The Palicur moieties have separate cemeteries and are named 
"lower" and "upper," respectively. 

At least partly totemic clan names appear in the Cubeo, Palicur, and 
Tucuna schemes. Cubeo and Tucuna clans own each a set of personal names. 


How far we can speak of totemism apart from the above mentioned 
cases of totemic names, is not certain. One Palicur clan traces its descent 
from a sloth, others from a bird, wild Bromelias, and the earth, re- 
spectively ; but some of the designations are untranslatable. Among 
the Cuheo, again, it was not the totemic clan eponyms that were once 
taboo, but the eponyms associated with the sets of personal names owned 
by clans. 

Political organization. — Commonly each settlement is autonomous, 
so that the headman merely controls fellow-residents, but some tribes 
are said to have paramount chiefs (Yuruna) . In the matrilocal but clan- 
less tribes, a headman might exert much influence by controlling as de- 
pendents his daughters' husbands. Indeed, in the Guayaki hordes, the 
father of several daughters who have attracted suitors into fixed matri- 
local residence becomes ipso facto the headman. As a rule, however, 
greater authority belongs to chiefs in unilaterally organized societies. 
A Palicur chief, e. g., welcomes strangers, organizes communal enterprises, 
and smooths over internal difficulties. But though a chief represents his 
people, arranges festivities, and leads economic undertakings, he owes 
hospitality to his tribesmen and probably is never despotic by virtue of 
his office. 

Succession follows distinct patterns. In the Rio Negro region (Siusi) 
a headman is followed first by his several brothers and only after their 
death by a son. The Palicur disregard heredity, the incumbent selecting 
as deputy and successor the ablest and most popular tribesman. Elsewhere 
( Yuruna) the oldest son normally succeeds his father ; failing male off- 
spring, a Witoto chief may choose as his successor a son-in-law, thus 
contravening the normal patrilocal rule. 

Where sources speak of accession by ordeals (Roth, 1924, pp. 568-573), 
a purely titular distinction seems invloved : the successful candidate 
does not supersede the chief in ofifice, but gains in status. The tests in 
part coincide with those imposed at puberty. 

In some tribes (e. g., Qui jo, Nambicuara) a chief is usually a shaman. 

As for differences in rank, the status of sons-in-law was often inferior 
in matrilocal societies, but hardly enough so to warrant speaking of an 
inferior caste, though in some tribes the same term designates a serf and 
a son-in-law (e. g., Guiana Carib, p. 849). Rather different is the case 
of whole tribes dominated by others. Thus, the originally nomadic Macii 
are well enough treated by economically superior neighbors, but some- 
what as might be pet animals. The Tucano send Macii slaves to get game, 
fish, or wild fruits and assign menial tasks to them. A master will dole 
out kashiri or an occasional cigar to his drudge, but bars him from 
dances ; and no Macti would intrude into a conversation unasked. Dif- 
ferent again is the Chiriguano polity. This offshoot of the Gnarani 
conquered the economically advanced Chcme, thus creating an upper class 


that in various districts lords it over from 5 to over 10 times their number 
of serfs (p. 467). A stratification is suggested for the ancient Manasi 
of Bolivia : hereditary chiefs, priests, shamans, "captains," and com- 
moners (p. 389). 

Property and inheritance. — Individual property rights are recog- 
nized, even children being credited with them (M. Schmidt, 1905, p. 438; 
Roth, 1924, pp. 632, 701). But this does not bar communal ownership 
of certain goods, such as weirs and general sharing in the yield (e. g., 
p. 000; Koch-Griinberg, 1921, p. 257). In Guiana land is cleared by 
communal labor (Kirchhoff, 1931, pp. 141, 157). Since settlements shift 
with exhaustion of the soil, inheritance of land is immaterial, but fishing 
rights are sib-owned among the Cubeo (p. 781) and on the upper Xingu 
(p. 324). As for other property, most tribes burn or bury a deceased 
person's chattels. A Triimai nephew inherits certain songs from his 
mother's brother. Among the Siusi the son is the sole heir ; failing issue, 
the dead man's brother or other kinsman takes his place. 

Trade. — Local specialization and the mobility of expert boatmen 
favored wholesale trading notwithstanding the lack of fixed mediums of 
exchange. Acawai peddlers make long journeys in Venezuela, Brazil, 
and Guiana. Even such necessities as cassava graters and blowguns are 
often manufactured in particular distributing centers. Credit is an 
established concept, payment being often deferred for months. 

That Arawakans have created all useful goods is unproved. The iso- 
lated Otomac are famous for their pottery; the Cariban Arecuna spread 
cotton and blowguns ; the Warrau, their boats ; the Pehans, Macushi, and 
Tucnna, blowgun poison. Intertribal trade was greatly developed on the 
upper Xingu River, with formalized procedure (pp. 338-339). The 
extent of commerce is indicated by the presence of Andean objects of gold, 
silver, and copper as far east as the upper Paraguay River. 


Weapons. — Bows and arrows have already been described under 
Hunting (p. 12). Some of the fighting arrows are poisoned. Roth 
rightly wonders at the infrequent use of curare in warfare (blowguns 
with their curare-poisoned darts were never used), but the Yahuna are 
said to smear it on palm spines attached to their wrists and elbows in 
preparation for a hand-to-hand encounter (Koch-Grunberg, 1921, p. 362). 
Spears are common in western rather than in eastern Guiana ; they are 
long, pointed, and firehardened staves of wood, but there is some evi- 
dence of prehistoric stone spearheads. In Yapura and Apaporis River 
country there are poisoned lances, which are wanting in the Caiari region ; 
they serve both in war and the chase. These weapons are always united 
in sheaves of seven ; each poisoned tip, inserted in an incision of the 
shaft and wrapped with bast, is stuck into a separate compartment of a 


common case for the septet. The arrangement resembles that for poisoned 
arrows on the Aiari River (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, pp. 64, 88, 371 f., 396). 

Clubs with wrist-loops are common, especially the flat, paddle- or 
swordlike type (macana, fig. 78, e-h). These are large, at times requir- 
ing the use of both hands to wield them. A block type, distributed at 
least from Cayenne to the Orinoco, is made of the hardest, heaviest 
woods worked into sharp-cornered square ends; sometimes a celt is 
cemented into a lateral groove (fig. 27). A curious dagger-club tapers 
to a sharp point at one end, to a blunt one at the other, with the grip 
in between; it is driven through the ear into a fallen enemy's brain. 
Other clubs resemble a spatula. The clubs are often elaborately orna- 
mented with basketwork wrapping and engraved designs. 

Shields vary greatly in make and shape, but most commonly are circular, 
of tapir hide. Wickerwork equivalents, occasionally covered with tapir 
hide, also occur in the Montana, the Uaupes-Caqueta (pi. 103, center), and 
the Mojos-Chiquitos area, and they persist as dance regalia on the Rio 
Negro, For the Cayenne Indians, an early recorder describes and figures 
an oblong shield of very light wood, painted with various designs. 

Psychology of Warfare. — Some tribes, such as the Yagua (p. 735) 
are reckoned as peaceable, others — notably the Carib and Tupi — as militar- 
istic. The historic conflict of Cariban and Arawakan groups in the Antilles 
is also exemplified by the hereditary enmity of Galibi and Palicur; and 
the Arawakaiis of I(jana region are traditional enemies of the Cubeo, but 
it would be a grave error to suppose that alignment universally followed 
linguistic lines. To the contrary, warfare was more common within 
families, e. g., between Jivaro villages, between the Panoan Conibo and 
Cashibo, or between Nahukwa groups. 

Revenge seems to have been the foremost motive for warfare, but the 
Parintintin fought mainly for sport and the Tupinamba to gain prestige 
and to acquire victims to be eaten. The craving for glory also figured 
largely, as indicated by the use of trophies, e. g., among the Jivaro 
(p. 624) and, on the Orinoco River, by the recital of coups. The Paressi 
are unique in their wars of conquest. Another motive was the capture 
of individual enemies, a factor greatly intensified by European instigation. 

Organization and tactics. — The decision to make war usually takes 
place at a council in combination with a drinking-bout. The Suriname 
Carib then paint themselves, dance special dances to arouse the jaguar 
spirit, and undergo magical rites to ensure success. Some tribes summon 
their fellows by signal drums or by blowing conchs. Several groups are 
credited with having specially appointed commanders-in-chief and with 
carrying provisions along. Among the Mundurucu, women accompany 
and assist their warrior husbands. 


Open warfare is far less common than nocturnal and matutinal sur- 
prise attacks. In attacking a palisaded village, the aggressors often shoot 
arrows tipped with lighted cotton to set fire to the thatched roofs. Wide- 
spread protective measures include the barring of avenues of approach 
with sharp hardwood stakes and coltrops, both often poisoned, and the 
stakes frequently set in the bottom of a concealed trench. The use of 
automatically-released blowguns hidden by the trail (Jurua-Purus) and 
of irritating fumes from burning peppers is more restricted. 

Treatment of prisoners. — Slavery has already been mentioned. Cap- 
tive women were usually taken in marriage and children reared as ordinary 
tribal members, but the cannibalistic Tupinamha, though taking captives, 
always killed and ate them sooner or later. 

Trophies. — Nearly all warring tribes take human trophies of some kind, 
most frequently heads, though the Parintintin do not disdain arms and 
legs. The most famous trophies are the Jivaro shrunken heads (pi. 63 
and p. 625). In some cases, scalps alone are sought, e. g., in Suriname, 
where the women wear them as ornaments, the Yecuand using the hair 
for belts. The Yuruna and various Montana tribes prefer the skull. A 
common practice is to make flutes of the victim's long bones and necklaces 
of his teeth. 

The Mundnrucu cut an enemy's head off with a cane knife, remove 
the brains, eyes, tongue, and muscles, then dry the skull, wash it with 
water, saturate it with urucu oil, and expose it to the sun. When hard, 
it receives an artificial brain of dyed cotton, eyes of pitch, teeth, and 
a feather hood for decoration (fig, 28; pi. 23, lejt). Henceforth, the 
victor regularly carries it with him by a rope. ( Spix and Martins, 1823- 
31, 3:1314). 

Cannibalism. — Although our word "cannibal" is derived from a desig- 
nation of the Carih, many Arawakan and Tucanoan tribes also practiced 
anthropophagy. Several tribes in Guiana closely resembled the Tupi- 
namha in their relevant procedure ; they hospitably entertained a prisoner 
for some time, beginning to taunt him as the fatal hour of his execution 
approached, then tortured him, and finally crushed his skull with a sword- 
club. This was followed by the cooking and eating of his flesh, some 
of the bones being made into flutes. (See figs. 12-14.) Shipaya canni- 
balism is linked with the cult of Kumapari. 

(For the whole section, see Roth, 1924, pp. 144-173, 578-601.) Endo- 
cannibalism is described under Death (p. 38) . 


Birth. — Isolation of the woman during childbirth is customary. Among 
the Siusi, e. g., the woman in labor remains in her hammock within the 
house, assisted by the female inmates, while the men all depart. The 
navel string and afterbirth are buried on the spot (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, 


p. 116). For 5 days the mother remains secluded in her division of the 
dwelling, where her husband keeps her company ; during this period 
neither parent may work, wash himself, or eat anything but flat manioc 
cakes and peppers lest the infant take harm. The seclusion is ended by 
the father's recital of the names of fish and game animals henceforth 
permitted to the parents, followed by a joint bath by them and the infant. 
On that day the father's father bestows a name on the child, usually 
drawing upon the animal kingdom. The Cuheo (p. 787) conform to the 
Siusi rule in this respect, but widely depart from it in other details. Here 
the expectant mother — not her husband — abstains from the flesh of all 
quadrupeds for a month before the birth. The delivery may occur in 
the house or in a special hut or in the woods, but with the assistance of 
all women. The husband's mother cuts the navel cord with razor grass 
and immediately buries it with the afterbirth. Of twins of different 
sex the female, and otherwise the junior infant, is invariably killed. 
Several hours after a birth the shaman arrives for a conjuring ceremony. 
Confinement in the young couple's part of the house lasts for 5 days, 
then all the furniture is moved out of the house prior to the newborn 
child's first bath, and on the following day a kinsman of the father brings 
cooked fish, thereby terminating the fast. Eight days after the delivery 
a great drinking spree is held, to which the parents invite all their kin, 
and it is then that a name is conferred (Koch-Grunberg, 1921, pp. 310 f.). 

In these instances the couvade, which has a very wide distribution, 
is at best adumbrated. In Guiana the couvade appears in classical form, 
i. e., natal and prenatal prescriptions and restrictions on the father equal 
or surpass the mother's, the rationale usually being the infant's welfare. 
A Palicur father is supposed to be everywhere accompanied by the child's 
spirit, for whom he must carry a miniature bow and arrow lest he himself 
fail in the hunt ; and if he is obliged to enter the woods at night he must 
carry a sling over his left shoulder for the infant's spirit. Were the man 
to make incisions in certain trees, the tree-spirit would cause the child's 
abdomen to grow large like the tree's (Nimuendaju, 1926, p. ^Z). The 
Suriname Carih forbade the father to hunt or undertake any heavy work ; 
everywhere he had to avoid thorny places on the road, and if he crossed 
a river by a tree trunk, he would set up a sort of miniature bridge for 
the child's spirit (Roth, 1924, pp. 695 f.). The Galihi subjected the 
father to the same flogging and scarification tests characteristic at puberty, 
the idea being to transfer to the child the valor shown. The Macushi 
prohibit both parents to scratch themselves with their fingernails, instead 
of which they employ the midrib of the kokerite palm (Roth, 1915, 
pp. 320-324). 

There seems to be no support for Max Schmidt's view (1917, pp. 61-64) 
that the couvade was a potent mechanism for creating an economically 
subordinate social class. The custom is not confined to matrilocal peoples, 


as he assumes, but has a wide distribution irrespective of the rule of resi- 
dence ; and its implications are very clearly of the magico-religious order. 

Puberty. — Some sort of puberty ordeal is widespread, being obligatory 
for both sexes before marriage especially in the Guianas, as among the 
Carib and Warrau. The principal tests are fasting, exposure to ant 
bites, scarification, and flagellation. A Pomeroon Arawak girl must 
abstain from meat at her first menses and eat very little fish with small 
manioc cakes ; her Warrau sister neither eats, speaks, nor laughs for 2 
or 3 days. Maue, Apinaye, and Arapium boys were exposed to ants, as 
was customary among various Guiana tribes (see pi. 118, d), which latter 
commonly inflicted severe gashes on adolescents of both sexes. Boys 
or girls, or both, were flogged among the Macushi, the Marauhd, and 
Araycu (west of Ega), and tribes of the lower Iqa. River. Very common 
is the suspension of a girl in a hammock raised to the highest part of 
the hut so as to expose her to the smoke. This custom, linked with fast- 
ing and other taboos, seems to be in part of upper Amazonia the equivalent 
of the boys' flogging. The Taulipdng combine all the austerities de- 
scribed : A youth is whipped and gashed, the incisions being smeared 
with magical substances, and exposed to ants, besides being obliged to 
forego the meat of game and flesh of large birds and big fish for a 
whole year. This trial is invariably collective, and none of the candidates 
may utter a cry of pain lest the ceremony be nullified for all celebrants. 
However, the primary object of the performance is, according to Koch- 
Grunberg, not a mere test of fortitude, but a magical enhancement of 
the youths' skill in hunting and fishing; and consequently it may be 
repeated for like purposes in later life. A Taulipdng girl, when coming 
of age, is exposed to ants, tattooed, and whipped ; throughout her first 
period she remains in her hammock partitioned from the rest of the hut, 
observes a rigid diet, and is obliged to use a special scratcher for her 
head. This last taboo also applies to mourners of either sex. At the 
next four or five menstrual periods the prohibitions are somewhat re- 
laxed, but the girl must not visit the plantation, seize knives or axes, 
blow on a fire, or talk loudly lest her health suffer. The Siusi (Rio 
Aiari) cut a girl's hair, paint her with genipa, restrict her food, and 
wind up with a major carousal. The Tupinamha shave the girl's head 
and scarify her, and the Guarani cut her hair, while among the Parinfintin 
and some Montafia tribes she is deflowered. The Nambicuara isolate her 
for several months outside the village, where she receives ritual food, 
a bath terminating the period of seclusion. (See Koch-Grunberg, 1923 b, 
pp. 121-131, 168; 1921, pp. 115, 220; Roth, 1915, pp. 308-313; Spix and 
Martius, 1823-31, 3:1185 f., 1314 f., 1318, 1320 f; Bates, 1863, 2:405 f.) 

Initiation of boys into a men's tribal society has a limited distribution. 
The Tucanoans initiate boys to the ancestor cult, (the so-called "Yaupary" 
cult), requiring them to take snuff and revealing to them the secret 


megaphone and trumpet which represent the voices of the ancestors 
(p. 783). The Witotoans (p. 760) and Tucuna (p. 718) seem similarly 
to initiate boys to the secret trumpets. South of the Amazon, there is 
no cult, except possibly in the Mojos-Chiquitos area where again there 
are secret musical instruments. Preparation of boys for manhood starts 
at a tender age, when they receive their first labrets (Tupinamba), take 
parica snuff (Mura), have their teeth stained {Cashinawd), sleep in the 
men's house {Mundurucu), are tonsured (Carajd), or experience other 
formal stages of growing up. 

Death. — In the disposal of the dead divergent procedures exist, some- 
times even with the same tribe. The most widespread practice is to 
bury the corpse in their huts. Usually care is taken to prevent direct 
contact with the earth by erecting a palm-leaf shelter or some equivalent 

The posture is sometimes vertical, in other cases sitting, the latter 
position being also employed in Riicuyen cremation. Almost all the 
upper Xingti burials are in recumbent position with the head toward the 
east. Funeral deposits are common, but not universal. Often, especially 
after the death of a distinguished man, the house is abandoned. The 
Cashinawa destroyed a deceased person's possessions. 

Cemeteries occur, as among the Palicur; and Humboldt records an 
assemblage of nearly 600 skeletons of the extinct A Hire, each in a separate 
basket, the bones having been variously dyed for this secondary disposal 
some months after primary burial in damp earth, followed by scraping. 
Urns near the baskets also held bones, presumably those of one family. 
(See also pi. 119, bottom.) Such secondary urn burial was widespread, 
especially among Tupian tribes. 

In some cases there are dietary taboos. The discarding of ornaments 
and the cutting of the hair are widespread mourning practices. There 
is often restriction on remarriage during the period. Lamentations are 
kept up between death and the final ceremonies. Among the Cubeo, they 
continue for 5 days in harmony with the mystic number of the upper 
Rio Negro country. 

A remarkable secondary procedure characterizes the Tapajo, Cubeo, 
Arapium, certain Panoans, and some other groups. The cremated corpse 
or the exhumed bones are burnt to ashes, which are mixed with festive 
brew, and drunk with the beverage (e. g., pp. 254, 556; also Norden- 
skiold, 1930 a, p. 12; Palmatary, 1939, p. 5 f.; Koch-Grunberg, 1921, 
p. 316; Roth, 1924, pp. 642, 660). 

In the Guianas, the closing mortuary solemnities might take place about 
a year after the death, but the exact date apparently hinged on whether 
the deceased person's manioc crop sufficed for supplying the wherewithal 
for a carousal. These festivities involved not only drinking, singing, 
and dancing, but also in some tribes (Arawak, Warrau) mutual flagella- 

Plate 1. — Brazilian and Paraguayan landscapes from the air. Top, left: 
Shifting agriculture in the forests of Maranhao, Brazil. Top, right: Tebicuary 
River meandering across grassy plains of southern Paraguay, Guarani country. 
(After Rich, 1942, Nos. 34, 136.) Bottom: A jungle delta in the Province of 
Maranhao, Brazil. (Courtesy Albert W. Stevens and the National Geographic 

Plate 2. — The Peruvian Montana. {Top, Courtesy Grace Line; bottom, after 

Johnson, 1930.) 


^i^^ssssfi ,■ 





Plate 3.— Ecuadorean and Brazilian jungles. Top: Giant ferns, Ecuador. 
(Courtesy H. E. Anthony and the National Geographic Magazine.) Bottom: 
Along the lower Solimoes River, Brazil. (Courtesy American Museum of 
Natural History.) 

Plate 4. — Landscapes of Venezuela and the Guianas. Top: Beyond Suapure, 
Venezuela, showing abrupt change to densely wooded ranges. The tonka bean 
is the most characteristic tree. (Courtesy Llewelyn Williams.) Center: 
Atorai country, British Guiana. (Courtesy University Museum, Philadelphia.) 
Bottom: The ledge (dark diagonal line) approach to the summit of Roraima, 
British Guiana. (Courtesy G. H. H. Tate and the National Geographic 

Plate 5. — Venezuela rivers. Top, left: Upper Orinoco. Top, right: Casiquiare 
River. Center, left: Upper Orinoco. Center, right: Rio Negro, the Brazilian- 
Venezuelan border. (Courtesy Llewelyn Williams.) Bottom: Casiquiare 
River, showing typical cut banks and river vegetation. (Courtesy G. H. H. 
Tate and C. B. Hitchcock.) 



2 o 


■:^W f09K 

^•^ . i: 

Plate 8. — Tropical forest agriculture and food preparation. Top: A collective 
garden cleared by "slash-and-burn" technique. On the Pimenta Bueno 
River, (Courtesy Claude Levi-Strauss.) Bottom: YaulaTpiti women crushing 
manioc. (Courtesy University Museum, Philadelphia.) 


tion with a special whip. The dances might include animal mimicry of 
the type performed at other celebrations. A kind of masquerade, but 
with exposed faces, occurs among the Rucuyen; the performers, wearing 
a towering headgear and a long bark fringe from the neck downward, 
successively crack a long whip. But full-fledged masked dances as a 
mortuary ritual characterize the upper Rio Negro, where butterflies, 
carrion vultures, jaguars, etc., are all represented by the costumes and 
the actors' behavior (p. 789). Koch-Grunberg (1921, pp. 78-85, 314 f.) 
surmises that the purpose is to conciliate the spirit of the dead, to ward 
off evil demons, and to foster success in hunting and farming. Women 
attend these performances, but only as spectators (Roth, 1924, pp. 


Art. — In the absence of detailed preliminary studies only a sketchy 
treatment can be attempted. 

As Max Schmidt has indicated, twilling produces parallel diagonal 
effects, whose combination may yield distinct decorative designs, such as 
concentric diamonds or concentric squares (M. Schmidt, 1905, p. 334 
et seq.). Such textile designs are often secondarily transferred to other 
media; they may be painted on the face, body, or pottery, incised on 
house-posts and walls, engraved on dance implements and weapons, and 
worked in beads (pi. 102, right). According to Koch-Griinberg, (1921, 
pp. 341, 347), the primary textile patterns include zigzags, meanders, 
series of right angles, etc. However that may be, neither definitely 
curvilinear nor naturalistic forms can be derived from a textile technique. 
Thus, variants of a spiral motif are prominently painted on the ceramics 
of the Brazilian-Guiana litoral. Here also appear characteristic pairs 
of overlapping, though not actually interlocking hooks; these couples 
are variously arranged, in four or five-fold vertical series partitioned into 
panels; in concentric circles on the inside of the vessel, etc. (Roth, 1924, 
pis. 27-29). Again, the remarkable array of clubs from Guiana and 
Brazil published by Stolpe (1927, pis. 1, 2, 16 et passim) reveals, indeed, 
some patterns conceivably of textile origin, but many circles, scrolls, 
scallops, and sundry combinations of curvilinear with rectilinear figures. 
There are also unequivocally realistic representations of a quadruped and 
a group of birds (Stolpe, 1927, p. 4, fig. 9; p. 12, fig, 4, a). Far less 
faithful to nature are the numerous human forms, some of them so con- 
ventionalized as to warrant conjecture that they may have sprung from 
some geometrical figure, with secondary amplification and reading in of 
a likeness to the human forms. Yet even here no specifically textile 
model is indicated. Most interesting among these quasi-realistic club 
decorations are twin figures in juxtaposition and either distinct or joined 
so that adjacent arms or other parts of the body coalesce (Stolpe, 1927, 
pis, 9, 10). Realistic forms also appear painted or drawn in charcoal 

653333 — 47—5 


on the bark covering of house walls or on house posts, a masculine torso 
in full dance regalia being an ever recurrent sample. Such decoration 
of posts is confined to the upper Caiari (Vaupes) River and the neighbor- 
ing Aiari River (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, p. 348 f.) ; at times the rear 
of the same pillars bears the picture of a giant snake. On the lower 
and middle Xingu a maze pattern is painted on the body or incised on 
utensils {Shipaya). 

The masks of the Kaua, pieces of bast sewed over flexible rods, are 
painted to simulate various beasts, small red circles and many black ones 
being intended to suggest the spots of the jaguar's skin. The Cuheo 
have bark-cloth masks representing anthropomorphic legendary beings, 
such as demons and giants, as well as deer, sloths, snakes, butterflies, etc. 
(PI. 98; also, Koch-Griinberg, 1921, pp. 7Z, 323-327, pi. 4; cf. also the 
Tucuna bark-cloth animals, pi. 64.) The upper Xingu has many, well- 
made masks (p. 342). Carved, wooden masks are used by several tribes 
(pi. 44; figs. 40-^2). 

Plastic work attains considerable heights in clay (fig. 36), wax (pi. 102 ; 
fig. 23), and wood (figs. 30, 31, 37). The effigy pottery and the acces- 
sories of earthenware vessels, grotesque and extravagant as they tend to 
be, indicate much dexterity and sophistication. A Palicur turtle in clay 
is admirably faithful to nature (Nimuendaju, 1926, p. 48), and the wax 
figurines of great anteaters, peccaries, and tapirs by the Taulipdng (Koch- 
Griinberg, 1923 b, p. 126) are certainly creditable. In wood, the benches 
or stools carved from a single block, with an animal's head at one end 
and its tail at the other (fig. 37), are noteworthy samples of native skill. 
Caiman, beetle, jaguar, and snake heads are among those realistically 
portrayed. Doctors' seats are as a rule specially decorated (Roth, 1924, 
p. 273 et seq. ; Nimuendaju, 1926, p. 61). The Cubeo perform certain 
dances, holding wooden figures of fish, birds, and lizards. On the Apa- 
poris River the masks of the Opaina are topped by a cylindrical two- 
winged headgear of very light wood, both the body and the lateral pro- 
jections being profusely painted (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, p. 397, pi. 12). 

Ceramic art has been mentioned (p. 26) . 

Games. — Many scattered tribes from the Mojos-Chiquitos area and the 
Guarani to the Uaupes-Caqueta region and the Guianas played a ball 
game, many using a special rubber ball. 

Another widespread ball game {Yecuana, Taulipdng, Bacdiri, Macushi 
etc.) is shuttlecock, played with maize husks (fig. 49, c) struck with the 
flat of the hand. A similar game is popular among young men on the 
Caiari (Uaupes and Ariari Rivers (p. 889). The Kepikiriwat propel 
the ball with their heads and stake arrows on the issue of a game. 

Other athletic sports include true wrestling and a curious contest 
(Warrau, p. 879), in which each player tries to push back his opponent 
or throw him by pressure of a special form of shield against his ad- 


versary's. Foot races in the savannas over distances of 10 to 20 miles 
are popular among the Macushi, who recognize champion runners. This 
sport is combined with a drinking bout and wrestling: The beverage 
brewed is stored in a house and the would-be winner has to force an 
entry against guards trying to prevent his ingress. A dance follows 
(Roth, 1924, p. 478 f.) 

Boys from an early age practice archery, shooting small birds, and 
organizing sham battles and hunts. In Guiana there are also diving and 
other water sports. Children of both sexes imitate the economic activi- 
ties of adults. They also mimic animals to the accompaniment of songs 
and model clever wax figurines. Girls play with wooden dolls made 
by their fathers. Macushi, Carib, and Siusi boys walk on stilts (fig. 115, 
right). Tops (Guianas, upper Xingii, Montaiia, etc.) are spun by 
youngsters, each trying to upset his opponent's ; and there are likewise 
humming tops and buzzers. In several tribes either the children them- 
selves or their elders often make the rejects of plaitwork into elaborate 
toys representing such objects as rattles and balls or animals, like fish 
and fleas. 

Cat's-cradle figures exist in great profusion (e.g.. Roth, 1924, pp. 
488-550) . The Andean dice game was played by Chirigumio. 

Dances. — Irrespective of magico-religious connections, the dances of 
the area have various social associations and functions. They are probably 
always linked with singing and drinking bouts; they serve to maintain 
friendly relations with neighboring tribes; and they offer opportunities 
for barter, gossip, amatory dalliance, and the settling of quarrels. To 
invite outsiders, the chief sends messengers with mnemonic cords having 
a knot for each day until the opening of the festivity, a device also em- 
ployed on other occasions. Major enterprises may draw together not 
far from a thousand persons among the Taiilipang, with possibly 200 
active performers. The dances follow one another in a sequence that 
is presumably fixed at least in particular tribes. In Guiana the humming- 
bird dance takes precedence: a company of decorated young men have 
to fight their way through the ranks of their comrades to the covered 
liquor-trough, where women try to pour pepper into their eyes, the 
victor receiving the first drink and every one then capering round the 
trough. Very popular are dances in mimicry of animals, the performers 
sometimes impersonating a whole troup of monkeys or a herd of peccaries. 
Women take part in some dances, but are excluded from others, at least 
as active performers. 

Some dances involve no special paraphernalia ; others are characterized 
by a profusion of ornaments and accessories. In the parishara of the 
Taulipang a kind of masquerade is worn, a plaited headgear partly covering 
the face and a long fringe descending to the feet, as in the Rucuyen 
funeral performance. The costume wearers blow wooden tubes with 



gaily painted figurines at one end, while in the other hand they carry 
a long staff with pendent deer dew claws or seed capsules at the top. 
The dancers form a long Indian file, each bending his knees, stamping 
his right foot, advancing a step, flexing the upper part of the body, then 
dragging the left foot forward. Each division has a song and dance 
leader. The staff is struck against the ground in rhythmic unison with 
the steps. When the performers, starting from the savanna, have reached 
the village, women and girls join, each placing her right hand on her 
male partner's left shoulder, or both hands on her neighbor's shoulders 
on both sides. Now an open ring develops and the performers move 
forward and backward, to the right and the left, uttering shouts after 
each figure. During the dancing and the intermission women or girls 
offer calabashes of drink to the performers. 

Some dances are connected with mythological tales and may envisage 
magical effects in fishing and hunting. The Apapocuva Guarani, haunted 
by fear of an impending world catastrophe, tried throughout the historic 
period to escape destruction under the leadership of shamans who were 
to guide them through sacred dances to an earthly paradise (p. 94). 
(Koch-Grunberg, 1923 b, p. 154 et seq.; Roth, 1924, pp. 470-483; 
Nimuendaju, 1914 c.) 

Music. — (For general treatment, see Izikowitz, 1935.) 

Although stringed instruments — musical bows and violins — undoubtedly 
occur in the area, their aboriginal character is strongly suspect. There 
is no reference to them in the earliest post-Columbian literature and the 
terms applied to these chordophones are in the main clearly derived from 
Spanish or Negro vocables. It is also noteworthy that, as in Africa, 
the bow is usually played by striking the string with a stick (Izikowitz, 
1935, pp. 201-206). 

As to membranophones, the European military drum gained consider- 
able distribution in the historical period, but the general use of Spanish 
designations again casts doubt on the pre-Columbian occurrence of these 
instruments in Amazonia, though Roth does not consider the argument 
conclusive. (Nordenskiold, 1930 a, p. 165 ; Roth, 1924, p. 467; Izikowitz, 
1935, p. 193.) 

On the other hand, percussion idiophones are well represented. Note- 
worthy in view of Mexican, Pueblo, and California occurrences is the 
use of a plank foot drum by the Rucuyen and at Arawak funeral cere- 
monies (Roth, 1924, pp. 468 f., 649 ; Izikowitz, 1935, pp. 11-13). Equally 
significant is the presence of the tomtom ("hollow-log drum"), in eastern 
Ecuador and in the Orinoco and Rio Negro districts, generally for signal- 
ing, as among the Witoto (pis. 81, top; 99, top). Typically, it is carefully 
hollowed out from a tree trunk so as to leave a narrow slit. In use it 
is generally suspended from posts. A unique adaptation of this occurs 
among the Mangeroma (p. 679). The widespread, two-headed skin 


drum (pi. 62) is probably of European origin. Of jingling idiophone ap- 
pendages the deer-hoof rattle is noteworthy, being reported from the 
Roraima region (Izikowitz, 1935, p. 39). More important are rattles, 
those from gourds (Lagenaria) being shaken by the natural grip, while 
the round calabash (Crescentia) fruits are fitted to a handle. These 
instruments are often the special property of medicine men, though 
children may use basketry imitations (pi. 118, /, g). They occur far 
beyond the Tropical Forest area, as does the time-marking ground 
pounder — Metraux's "baton de rhythme," Izikowitz's "stamping tube" — 
which seems to have spread far to the south through Tupi-Guarani in- 
fluence. Most frequently a bamboo tube {Witoto, pi. 83, bottom, right; 
Cuheo, pi. 96; and Roraima Indians), it is made of Cecropia wood in 
the Rio Negro region (Metraux, 1928 a, pp. 215 f., 225; Izikowitz, 1935, 
pp. 151 et seq.). 

Aerophones are likewise conspicuous. Trumpets assume many forms: 
there are two- and three-bellied clay vessels with narrow mouthpieces 
(Orinoco, Guiana) ; long tubes of spirally wound bark, varying in size 
(Orinoco River, Vaupes River, Wapishana, etc., pi. 39; fig. 100) and in 
the Rio Negro territory strictly concealed from women; similar wooden 
instruments (pi. 101, lejt) ; conchs (Guiana) ; Lagenaria gourds 
{Wapishana) ; and combinations of a trumpet with a resonator of gourd 
or other material (fig. 46, left). Whether the clarinets found in and 
near Guiana are aboriginal, is as yet not clear. The wind instruments 
technically definable as flutes, include, among others, clay and wooden 
whistles (fig. 49, a, h,) ; quenas or notched flutes (Montafia) ; bone flutes 
(fig. 48) ; nose flutes {Nambicuara, pi. 36, top, right; Guiana) ; and 
panpipes (pis. 36, bottom, left; 79). The last-mentioned occur through- 
out the Tropical Forest and appear in ancient Peruvian graves. Similarity 
of pitch in Melanesian and South American panpipes led Von Horn- 
bostel to argue for their transmission to the New World, but Izikowitz 
(1935, pp. 378-408) regards the question as still open. 

Narcotics. — Although widely spread and generally cultivated in our 
area, tobacco has competitors that locally overshadow it. In the north- 
west, coca chewing and on the middle Amazon, parica snuffing make it 
recede into the background. Among the Tuyuca, guests receive both a 
cigar and coca. Witoto councilors chew coca, but also swear oaths by lick- 
ing their fingers after dipping them in a sirupy mess of boiled tobacco 

Coca (Erythroxylon coca) appears only along the eastern slope of the 
Andes, except in Colombia, where it spreads eastward in the Uaupes- 
Caqueta region. Spix and Martins (1823-31, 3: 1169 f., 1180) found 
no wild samples anywhere in Brazil, and did not strike any plantation 
before reaching Ega. In the west, however, enormous quantities are 
consumed, travelers of the Caiari (Uaupes) district taking a few small 


sackfuls of coca in lieu of all other provisions for a march of a day and 
a half (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, pp. 174 f., 204). Only the men — the main 
consumers — tend, harvest, and prepare the plant. They roast and pound 
the leaves up, mix the powder with the ashes from Cecropia leaves, and 
store the combination in a bast bag into which a long rod is inserted and 
secured by tying the container together. By tapping the rod, the user 
makes the powder ooze out of the bast, collecting it in a calabash, from 
which he can dip it up with a spoon or a leaf. Travelers sling calabashes 
with coca powder over the left shoulder and suck out the stimulant with 
a hollow bone. The un familiarity of the Chiquitos-Mojos Indians with 
coca is noteworthy in view of their Andean contacts. 

In some tribes (Arecuna) women never smoke, in others both sexes 
and even children indulge freely. On the upper Amazon, Spix and 
Martins (1823-31, 3: 1180) found that tobacco is most frequently used 
by shamans, who blow the smoke on their patients (p. 50). Bates 
(1863, 2: 407) mentions an extraordinary medicinal use: an old Ega 
Indian cured a tumor due to the grub of a gadfly by stupefying the 
insect with strong tobacco juice, thereby causing it to relax its grip and 
facilitating its removal. This is paralleled among the Chacobo, who 
grow tobacco for this exclusive purpose (Nordenskiold, 1922, p. 182.). 

In Guiana tobacco is smoked only in the form of cigarettes, the bark 
of certain trees providing the wrapper. The Tuyuca and Cubeo (pi. 103, 
left) circulate giant cigars 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm.) long — clamped 
between the two tines of a forklike holder. Several Guiana tribes chew 
tobacco, mixing it with salt or the ashes of an aquatic plant {M our era 
fluviatilis), which are kept in little gourds with a stick projecting through 
the stopper. In the Montaria, consumption of tobacco was formerly re- 
stricted largely to shamans, but is now more general. 

Parica (yupa, niopo) snuff, made of the seeds of Mimosa acacioides, 
likewise has a considerable distribution, being popular on the lower 
Amazon (Maue, Oniagua), and the Yapura, as well as sporadically on 
the Caiari (Uaupes) River. In the Guapore River region a shaman 
blows snuff composed of crushed angico, tobacco leaves, and bark ashes 
into his patient's nose. The Witoto put one branch into the mouth, the 
other into one nostril, a puff of breath propelling the powder into the 
inner portions of the mucous membrane. These people also have an 
X-shaped combination of two bones, by which two friends may simul- 
taneously blow snuff into each other's nostrils (fig. 106). Parica evokes 
sneezing and extreme exhilaration to the point of frenzy, followed by 
depression and stupor. It may figure largely at festivals (Spix and 
Martins, 1823-31, 3 : 1074 f.) . Parica is taken as an enema with a syringe 
in the Jurua- Purvis region, and among the Mura (p. 263). 

In the northwest Amazon region, cayapi (Banisteriopsis caapi and 
other species; see p. 7), is a favorite stimulant, served as an infusion 


at festivals, such as the Tucano tribal society's dance, in order to induce 
delightful hallucinations, which have been compared to those due to 
hashish. All things appear to be huge and gorgeously colored, there are 
visions of motley-tinted snakes and of erotic experiences. Some partakers 
fall into a deep sleep, awakening with severe headache. On novices the 
brew acts as an emetic. Women never drink cayapi, the preparation of 
which is wholly a masculine task. The men pound up the roots, stems, 
and leaves of the shrub into a greenish-brown mass, which is washed 
with water, squeezed dry, and again pounded and washed. The resulting 
substance, not unlike cow dung in appearance, is strained through a 
double sifter into the bellied cayapi urn, which is covered with leaves 
and placed outdoors. It has two horizontal handles and two perforations 
with a connecting suspension cord. Though never washed, the vessel 
is now and then repainted with the same yellow designs on a dark-red 
background. (See also, Koch-Grunberg, 1921, pp. 189 fif., 200 f., 219 f., 

Other stimulants, largely restricted to southeast Colombia and tropical 
Ecuador, are floripondia {Datura arborea) and yoco (Paulliniayoco). 
(See p. 7.) 

Peppers (Capsicum) are used by the Macushi as a stimulant, crushed 
peppers and water being poured into the nostrils to cure headache. In 
the Pomeroon district Capsicum enemas are in vogue. 

Intoxicating drinks. — Fermented beverages are lacking on the upper 
Xingu and among many Tupian tribes, but for large sections of the area 
the drinking spree, as an end in itself or an accompaniment of all serious 
occasions, is diagnostic, especially in contrast to the Ge. A variety of 
beverages are prepared, of which the narcotic cayapi has already been 
described. Manioc forms the most common base of fermented drinks, 
generically called chicha, but may be only one of several ingredients. 

The preparation of chicha is illustrated in the Rio Negro region, where 
it is called cashiri. The Indians mix the particles of toasted manioc 
cakes in a trough with fresh water, fermentation being accelerated by 
the addition of chewed beiju. The chewing is done mainly by women, 
who carefully knead the mass together with leaves of a certain tree. The 
trough, tightly covered, is allowed to stand indoors by a fire maintained 
overnight, yielding a sweetish, harmless brew. Two days' fermentation 
is required for intoxicating effects, which a woman achieves by squeezing 
the brown gruel through a basketry strainer into a pot, from which she 
or her husband serve guests. Sometimes the mass, after being set fer- 
menting, is kept wrapped up in the trough of a large pot, to be strained 
with water when an occasion for use arises. Sweet potatoes, maize, and 
the fruits of the pupunha and of other palms may all be substituted for 
manioc (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, p. 39 f.), to which in modern times 
sugarcane juice is frequently added. 


The Barama Carib makes cashirim by grating and squeezing cassava, 
then putting it into a large pot with water, into which they spit chewed 
portions of thin manioc cakes. The mixture is then placed in the house- 
hold trough and fermented for 3 days, when it acquires the alcoholic 
content of weak beer. For another chicha, called paiwari, these Indians 
thoroughly toast manioc cakes; small fragments of these are put into a 
pot filled with water and bits of chewed cake are added, as for cashirim, 
before removal to the trough. The toasting produces a distinctive cereal- 
like taste which Gillin compares to rye toast soaked in weak beer; it 
obviously allies the brew to Rio Negro cashirim. 

In other parts of the area, a great variety of starchy crops and of wild 
fruits are made into chicha, but distillation is unknown except to the 
Quijo, among whom it is undoubtedly a post-Columbian acquisition. 


High Gods and tribal heroes.— Roth's denial (1915, pp. 117 fif.) of 
any notion of a Supreme Being in the Guianas is not literally correct. 
According to an early author quoted by him, the Sun is regarded as an 
outstanding deity by some Orinoco tribes, and the Moon by others; the 
Barama Carib conceive of a primeval starter of the universe (Gillin, 
1936, p. 155) ; and the Witoto deity (Preuss, 1921, pp. 25 et seq., 166), 
notwithstanding the curiously abstract statements about his primeval 
doings, is even more definitely a creator and maintainer of the world. 
The Apapocuva Guarani speak of Our Great Father as the creator, and 
his sons figure as heroes. Nevertheless, generally a Supreme Being, if 
present, recedes in religious consciousness before other beings. 

Among these, tribal heroes loom large, at least in myth. They appear 
either as lone figures, pairs, or trios. Thus, the Yahuna tell of Milomaki, 
a boy who suddenly appeared from the east and sang so beautifully that 
everyone came to hear him. But when his auditors came home and ate 
fish, they all fell dead, so their kinsfolk burnt the boy on a pyre. His 
soul rose to the sky, however, and out of his ashes grew the pashiuba 
palm, whose wood the people made into large flutes that reproduced the 
wondrously fine tunes sung by the boy. These instruments — taboo to 
women and small boys, who would die if they saw them — the men still 
play when fruits are ripe, and they dance in honor of Milomaki as the 
creator of all fruits (Koch-Griinberg, 1923 b, p. 386 f.). The Cubeo tell 
of Homanihiko, whose mother drowns while big with him. He crawls 
out of her womb when a carrion vulture pierces her abdomen. Flying 
on the bird's back, the wonder-working infant transforms his own grand- 
mother from a serpent into human shape, avenges his father's death by 
shooting the jaguar responsible for it, and kills all manner of the then 
quasi-human beasts, birds, and insects. Although two brothers of the 
hero are mentioned, he alone figures as the national ancestor. One of his 


brothers, however, Kuai, is considered the inventor of masquerade dances 
and their costumes; the other, dwelHng in a large stone house, presides 
over the souls of the dead. 

According to our authority, Kuai is originally an Arawakan character, 
the son of Yaperikuli, the national hero of the tribes of that stock in the 
Rio Negro region. He is credited with the rock-drawings seen in 
Tariana territory ; and on the Aiari River a large human rock-engraving 
is interpreted as Kuai, after whom the Siusi name their sacred flutes, 
taboo to women, which are blown at a festival celebrated when certain 
palm fruits have ripened. Successive flagellation of the dancers till their 
blood streams from their wounds characterizes this ceremonial, which is 
also named Kuai (Koch-Griinberg, 1923 b, pp. 69, 121, 261). 

Typical twin myths are known from the Xingii River {Bacairi, Ship- 
aya), the Tupi-Guarani tribes, the Warrau, and the Cariban tribes. In 
the Guiana form, the Sun renders a woman pregnant with twins, then 
leaves her. She follows in his tracks, guided by one or both of the un- 
born children, whom she affronts so that advice is no longer forthcoming. 
As a result, she strays to the Jaguar house, where she dies (Warrau) or 
is killed (Carib). Either the Jaguar or Frog, his mother, extracts the 
twins by a Caesarean operation; they get fire for mankind (Warrau), 
avenge and restore their mother (Carib), and finally reach their father, 
where they turn into stars (Carib). In the Macushi variant, one of the 
twin brothers is carried off by a crane, but the other develops into a 
culture hero, teaching the Indians useful things as he travels about (Roth, 
1924, pp. 130-136). 

It is not clear how generally the tribal heroes are prayed to or other- 
wise worshiped, but Cubeo supematuralism centers in the cult of the clan 
ancestors and in shamanism. The former is associated with the boys' 
initiation, at which the novices learn about sacred musical instruments, 
taboo to women, and are whipped to make them grow. Males bathe to 
the sound of sacred horns when seeking strength. Widespread among 
Tupian tribes is a mythological character — Our Great Father of the 
Guarani — associated with an afterworld of happiness. Among both the 
Tupinaniba and Guarani, this god became prominent in a strong messianic 
cult (pp.90, 93-94, 131). 

Thunder is the principal deity of the Nambicuara and reveals himself 
to shamans; less frequently, to other adult males. He is an important 
deity, but definitely not a Supreme Being for the Guarani. 

Animism. — Animism is very strongly developed. The Taulipdng, who 
credit even plants and animals with souls, attribute no less than five to 
mankind. Only one of these goes to the land of spirits after the death 
of the body, three turn into birds of prey, the fifth remains with the 
corpse and bears the same name as a demon who causes eclipses. The 
surviving soul goes to the sky via the Milky Way ; it is waylaid by dogs. 


which destroy it if its owner abused his dog on earth, other souls being 
allowed to join their tribesmen. 

Widespread notions typical of primitive belief elsewhere crop up here 
too. Thus the Cubeo hold that the soul leaves the body in dreams and in 
sneezing. Great significance is attached to dreams. 

Fundamental to the entire area are bush spirits, which are variously 
conceived but universally feared, so that a common function of the shaman 
is their control. The Barama Carib recognize five distinct categories 
with a controlling master within each, the classes being associated, respec- 
tively, with the forest and land generally ; the air ; the water ; the hills ; 
and miscellaneous places or things, such as houses and industries. Each 
group is symbolized by a stone of a distinctive color or texture, sup- 
posedly represented by small pebbles in the rattle of the shaman through 
whom the spirits are approached. In addition, the Barama Carib recog- 
nize other supernatural beings definitely in any of the major categories. 
The bush spirits are generally mischief makers, causing the mishaps of 
daily life; water spirits figure as on the whole benevolent, but wreck 
travelers who venture to utter certain tabooed words while in a boat. 
(See also Roth, 1924, pp. 179 f., 245 f., 252.) 

The TauHpdng have a well-defined belief in certain beings as lords or 
"fathers" of whole classes of beasts, etc. Thus, a fisherman must pray 
to the master of fish to let him have a catch. Supernatural beings, in- 
cluding animals, are supposed to be really anthropomorphic, but capable 
of shifting their shape by donning an appropriate covering. Thus the 
"father of game animals," who is also identified with the rainbow, turns 
into a large snake by putting on a mottled skin, as does the "father of 
fish" ; and the jaguar correspondingly transforms himself from human 
guise by clothing himself in his skin ( Koch-Griinberg, 1923 b, pp. 176- 
189). Generically similar notions appear in the masquerade dances of the 
Siusi and the Cubeo, whose demons are identified with the costume worn by 
the performers, though the spirits themselves are visible only to the 
medicine men, not to the lay spectator. 

The conflict of good and evil spirits is well illustrated at Palicur fes- 
tivals, where each decorative feather on a dancer's headgear is the seat 
of a supernatural guardian, and the feathered staffs bounding the cere- 
monial square warn the protectors against the advent of demons, who 
bump against the cord connecting the posts. Moreover, the pole erected 
as a path to heaven is topped with a dance rattle bearing two of the spirit 
feathers and is further guarded by half a dozen feathered staffs at its 
foot (Nimuendaju, 1926, pp. 66 f., 87 f.). 

Shamanism. — Probably a temple cult with priests as distinguished 
from shamans is restricted to the Mojos-Chiquitos region. On the other 
hand, shamans — though not shamanistic procedures — are reported as 
lacking among the Siriono. On the lower Xingii, the shaman intermedi- 


ates between living people and the gods and souls of the dead, but curing 
is a secular function. 

The shaman often socially overshadows the chief, for the spirit world 
is most commonly approached through him only. Occasionally, but rarely 
and probably only in some tribes, women practice. A son often inherits 
his father's profession, but this is by no means a universal rule. The 
shaman is primarily a doctor and detector of sorcerers, but may also act 
as master of ceremonies (e.g., Guarani, p. 92; Palicur), counselor in 
warfare, prophet, finder of lost goods, name giver, depository of tradition, 
weather maker, etc. A prospective shaman undergoes a long period of 
training under his father or teacher, during which he diets, is instructed, 
acquires familiar spirits, and receives in his body various magical sub- 
stances or objects regarded as the source of his power and, when pro- 
jected into victims, as the cause of disease. He is also given tobacco in 
various forms and other stimulants, especially in the northwest Amazon 
region, such as Datura and ayahuasca. In some tribes, the shaman re- 
ceives his magical substance from a spirit, in others from his tutor. For 
a few tribes, the practitioner is stated to control one or more familiar 
spirits (e.g., Tenetehara, Tapirape, pp. 147, 177). In the western Amazon, 
he is associated with the jaguar (p. 682). There is no evidence that 
shamans of this area manifest epileptic or other abnormal tendencies, but 
trances, usually induced by drugs, are not uncommon. 

The magical substance is usually a quartz crystal in Guiana, a "thorn" 
or "arrow" in the region of the western Amazon and upper Xingu. Dur- 
ing his initiation, the neophyte gains immunity to and control of those 
substances, which he is supposed to take into his body. 

The foremost insignia of the shaman — widespread, though not uni- 
versal — are the gourd rattle, the crystal, a carved and painted bench, and 
a doll whose position during treatment indicates whether a patient is to 
recover. The doll is reported from parts of Guiana. The Taulipdng 
medicine man shakes a bunch of leaves instead of the rattle so used by 
doctors from Guiana to the Caiari (Uaupes) River. The bench seems 
most characteristic of Guiana. Crystals turn up in Guiana, on the 
Orinoco, and in the upper Rio Negro region, whither they may have been 
imported from the Orinoco ( Koch-Griinberg, 1923 b, p. 208). On the 
Guapore River the shaman's insignia are a snuffing tube, a board for mixing 
snuff, and a mystic feathered stick. Among the powers widely claimed by 
shamans is the ability to transform themselves into jaguars. A Cuheo 
shaman's soul enters a jaguar when he dies, thus separating itself from 
other people's spirits, which join the clan ancestors. 

Palicur doctoring is in most ways typical (Nimuendaju, 1926, pp. 91 
et seq.) . The shaman invariably works in complete darkness under a mos- 
quito net — the equivalent of a special palm-leaf compartment anciently 
used. Putting on a feather diadem, he rises, bids all present farewell 
since his soul is about to start on its journey, and crawls under the 


net, an assistant passing in to him the animal-shaped bench and a basket 
holding the shamanistic paraphernalia. The doctor sits down, removes 
from his basket the dance rattle and a root whose odor the spirits like, 
for which reason he grates away particles of it and sprinkles them on 
his hair. The assistant next hands him a lighted cigar. Soon groans, 
whistling, and singing become audible, the glowing tip of the cigar is 
seen floating downward from the ceiling of the mosquito net, and a re- 
sounding footstep signalizes the entrance of the first spirit into the 
medicine man's body. His own soul has left to summon the friendly 
spirits, including those of the dead. Each of these sings his own chants 
to the music of the rattle, all spectators joining. After 5 to 10 minutes 
of singing, the spirit converses with the assistant. Those present ques- 
tion the visitant about their own affairs. At last there arrives one spirit 
considered expert in the treatment required, and him the assistant con- 
sults. This continues for hours until the last spirit leaves, as indicated 
by the soaring cigar tip. The shaman crawls out of his compartment. 
Another procedure is to bring the patient, too, under the net. In actual 
treatment the doctor undresses the sick man, shakes his rattle all over 
the body till he strikes the seat of the malady, then summons his patrons 
against the causes of the disease, which may precipitate a noisy conflict. 
If the powers of evil conquer, the doctor admits his failure and casts 
about for a more competent colleague. Extraction of the disease by 
suction is also reported, but not reckoned essential. A cured patient 
regales his savior with a dance and drinking-festival, which is naturally 
directed by the successful doctor. 

Some of these traits, even apart from the sucking technique, have a 
wide distribution. The insistence on darkness, for example, occurs among 
the Pomeroon Arawak and Carib. Certain Palicur features are elaborated 
elsewhere: The Siusi shaman massages out of the patient five sticks as 
the agents of the disease and not merely puffs a cigar, but blows the 
smoke on the patient — a. prevalent practice throughout the Tropical 
Forests (pi. 120, center) — and himself swallows the smoke; again, the 
Taulipdng shaman drinks tobacco juice to expedite his soul to the sky. 
Ventriloquism seems highly developed by the Taulipdng; a Northwest 
Brazilian specialty is pouring cupfuls of an aromatic infusion over the 
patient's head and body (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, pp. 97 f., 113). The 
Montafia and northwest Amazon doctor extracts needles or thorns as 
pathogenic agents (pp. 532, 703). 

Fees are often contingent on a cure. In recent times a Taulipdng 
healer is usually compensated with European goods. A Cubeo receives 
urucu, pottery, bows, or hammocks. The Palicur express their appreci- 
ation by a feast. 

The nonmedical duties of a Palicur shaman are illustrated during fes- 
tivals, when he consecrates feathers, dance rattles, and carved settees by 
blowing smoke on them, thereby causing spirits to enter these objects, 


whence they are expelled at the close of the ceremony (Nimuendaju, 1926, 
pp. 95, 98 f.) 

Bad shamans may practice magic or summon spirits to harm personal 
enemies, but most tribes deal severely with such sorcerers. Alleged 
witchcraft is a usual incentive for murder, and consequently the most 
common cause of warfare, as it initiates a series of reprisals. 

Soul-loss as a cause of disease has been recorded from few tribes — e.g., 
Cocama, Omagua, Coto, and Itonama — but it is a concept that would 
escape superficial observation. 

Kanaima.— (Gillin, 1936, pp. 99 f., 149-152; Roth, 1915, pp. 346, 354 
et seq. ; Koch-Griinberg, 1923 b, pp. 216-219.) This term and its equiva- 
lents in Guiana designate (a) a certain evil spirit; (&) the man possessed 
by it or otherwise driven to devote himself to a work of vengeance; (c) 
the procedure followed by the avenger, including the poison or other 
means employed. In any case, the concept denotes the most malevolent 
antisocial behavior. Among the Barama Carib, the prospective kanaima 
is regarded as joining a cult, learning from its headman the arts of enter- 
ing houses unseen, benumbing one's victims, and inflicting incurable 
ailments. Kanaimas are accordingly outlawed, killing them being a mer- 
itorious deed. The Taulipdng, Tucanoan, Witotoan, Jivaro, or Campa 
belief in jaguar shamans merges in the kanaima concept, for the kanaima 
often dons the jaguar pelt in order to alarm and kill people. Contagious 
magic is likewise imputed to these individuals; they enclose a victim's 
spittle in a bamboo container and, by working magic over it, destroy 
the expectorator. Hostile tribes are often regarded as kanaimas. 

Medicine. — (Roth, 1924, pp. 702-714.) Apart from supernatural treat- 
ment, a shaman may employ techniques open to the laity. Prominent 
among Guiana remedies are emetics, e.g., the bitter bark of the wallaba 
tree (Eperua sp.), of which two or three drams are boiled in a quart of 
water, a few spoonfuls making an effective dose. Purgatives include the 
root of Cephaelis ipecacuanha. In Guiana enemas are made from a turtle, 
jaguar, or other mammalian bladder attached to a reed nozzle ; and rubber 
syringes characterize tribes on the Amazon. Vapor baths occur: while 
the patient rests in his hammock, red-hot stones are thrown into a large 
vessel of water under him (Macushi, Guinau) ; or water is thrown on 
large heated stones so as to envelop him in the steam. Rucuyen women 
take such vapor baths after confinement. Bleeding is frequently used for 
fatigue, stiffness in the limbs, and other ailments. Ant bites serve as 
counterirritants in cases of rheumatism and fever, the patient sometimes 
rolling himself in an ant's nest. Many domestic remedies against fevers, 
diarrhea, dysentery, and other afflictions consist of decoctions or infusions 
of the inner bark of certain trees. Guarana, a hard substance made from 
the pounded seeds of Paullinia sorbilis, is prepared by the Maue, who 
have a virtual monopoly of it, and widely traded as a medicine against 
diarrhea and intermittent fevers ; it is grated and then mixed with water 


(p. 252). For sting-ray wounds the Indians of the lower Amazon apply 
a poultice of mangrove bark mixed with palm oil. The sticky gum of 
Eperua serves as a plaster for wounds. For snake bite the wound is 
cut out and sucked, but some tribes also administer antidotes in the form 
of infusions; on the Essequibo River, the decoction of a certain root 
was both drunk and poured upon the wound. On the upper Amazon, 
Cyperus roots were attributed many therapeutic and magic virtues. 

Magic and ritual practice. — The machinations of witches and sor- 
cerers have already been noted, with the occasional practice of contagious 
magic. The Indians of the Guapore River (p. 378) believe in an invisible 
fluid which shamans may introduce, for good or evil, into food or human 
bodies. Impersonal supernaturalism is prominent in the prescriptions 
and taboos incident to birth and other critical situations. (See Life 
Cycle, p. 35.) The belief in a sympathetic bond between related individ- 
uals extends beyond the couvade in the general rule in Guiana that a 
patient's whole family must share his dietary restrictions (Roth, 1915, 
p. 352), a notion shared by some Northern Ge. A principle akin to 
sympathetic magic also appears in the use of certain varieties of caladia 
to attract particular animals and fish because of some fancied similarity: 
A "deer" caladium is supposed to suggest horns and the coloring of the 
fur in its venation, an "armadillo" caladium resembles the animal in 
having small projecting ears, etc. (Roth, 1915, p. 281 £.). 

Taboos are innumerable. To mention only a few, chosen for their 
comparative interest, Guiana tribes will not tell spirit legends in the day- 
time nor utter a person's name in his presence ; a hunter never brings 
his kill home, but leaves it for the women to fetch. The Arazvak abstain 
from eating after nightfall lest they be transformed into animals ; during 
the couvade, Macushi parents must substitute a special scratcher for 
their fingernails (Roth, 1915, pp. 193, 294-295, 304, 323). Of these, the 
last-mentioned recurs as far south as the Yahgan, and the name-taboo 
is equally pronounced among the Siusi and Cuheo (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, 
pp. 117, 311). Some taboos, such as the story-telling one and the pro- 
hibition of women from seeing the instruments sacred to a spirit (Koch- 
Griinberg, 1921, pp. 119, 322) on pain of automatic death are, of course, 
associated with animistic notions. 

Of positive prescriptions may be cited the talismanic application of 
red body paint, scarification, and the ever recurrent flagellation. 

Of extraordinary interest are the magical formulae of the Taulipdng, 
which the discoverer, Koch-Griinberg (1923 b, pp. 219-270) aligns with 
Cherokee and Hupa equivalents in North America. They are the prop- 
erty of laymen on equal terms with shamans and serve mainly to cure 
or impose bodily afflictions. These spells are linked with brief tales ex- 
pounding how ancestral beings introduced various ills into the world, which 
can be removed with the aid of beasts or plants somehow associated with 


the malady. Thus, intestinal worms are overcome by declamation of a 
formula in which two dogs are addressed, for dogs suffer from these 
worms without dying from them. 

A number of ritual and semiritual practices are found in the area, en- 
tering various contexts. The ant ordeal, associated especially with boy's 
puberty in the Guianas and among several Tupian tribes south of the 
Amazon, is used by the Mura to insure fishing success. Flagellation 
enters the Vaupes-Caqueta boy's initiation into the ancestor cult and 
the Macushi girl's puberty rite, but the Mura whip children to increase 
manioc yield and adults to give them strength, the Chehero flog pubescent 
girls, and the Guiana Arawak whip one another at a funeral ceremony 
to drive away evil spirits. In the Montaiaa, several tribes put pepper 
in the eyes of hunters for clear vision and strength, but the Pomeroon 
Arawak take pepper in enemas as a curative. Similarly, the several 
kinds of snuff and tobacco in various forms were taken for many purposes. 

Ceremonialism. — Ceremonials connected with the life cycle — birth, 
puberty, initiations, and death — are most pronounced and have been men- 
tioned. Many tribes, especially the Tupians, had rites concerned with 
subsistence activities, some even resembling harvest ceremonies. Of this 
type are Mundurucu festivals for maize and manioc growth and for 
hunting and fishing success, when a shaman makes offerings to fish 
skulls; the Guarani and Tapirape harvest ceremony; the Tenetehara 
honey festival to protect growing maize ; the Cashinawa dance to influence 
the maize spirit; the Camayura hunting and fishing ceremony; and the 
Trumai manioc ceremony. 

In the Rio Negro country the mystic significance of the number five 
is conspicuous. A funeral festivity opens 5 days after the burial and 
continues for 5 days, as does a mother's post-natal seclusion; youths 
initiated by flagellation are subject to 5-month dietary taboos ; an accepted 
suitor spends 5 days in his prospective father-in-law's house ; the lament 
over the dead lasts 5 days ; a shaman extracts 5 sticks ( Koch-Griinberg, 
1921, pp. 98, 107, 113, 116, 196, 263, 308, 310, 314, 322, 329). Else- 
where there is no such unequivocal preference, yet the Taulipdng believe 
in 5 human souls, make the shaman's apprentice drink a bark infusion 
for 5 nights, and have sporadic references to 10 and other multiples of 
five (Koch-Grunberg, 1923 b, pp. 170, 189, 203, 205). 

The major festivals on the upper Rio Negro seem to fall into two main 
categories: (a) those associated with musical instruments taboo to 
women; (b) performances by mummers. The costumes and dances (p. 
41) characteristic of the second type are at least sometimes linked with 
a memorial service in honor of a recently deceased tribesman. Their 
object is said to be complex — appeasement of spirits by their impersona- 
tion and promotion of fertility by phaHic dances (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, 
pp. 82 et seq., 324 et seq.). All sorts of animals may be realistically 


mimicked. The other type of performance, the "Yurupary" dance of 
the Lingua Geral, may be regarded as the basis of a men's tribal society 
(but see p. 704). The sacred instruments symboHze the spirit to 
whom the ceremonial is dedicated, and flogging of the novices is a pre- 
requisite to entrance (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, pp. 120 f., 130, 135 £., 
198 fJ., 217 fif., 263, 314 f., 322, 372). The Mundurucu tell a myth about 
a pristine matriarchate, the women making their spouses do all the work 
while themselves lived in the club house and played wind instruments. 
Once, however, the men detected them in the act, took the flutes away 
from them, and reversed the relative status of the sexes (Kruse, 1934, 
1 : 51-57). This tale is obviously very similar in essence to the Fuegian 
story of a great revolution depriving women of the ascendancy they en- 
joyed as possessors of masks. 

In the Shipaya feast of the dead, the souls enter the shaman's body. 
Among the same people, Kumapari, father of twin heroes and identified 
with the jaguar, is the center of a cult which involves cannibalism. 


Under the head of Religion, Shamanism, and Medicine (p. 46), certain 
hero myths have been indicated. For lack of preliminary work, it is impos- 
sible to offer a comparative tribal study, let alone one on the literary 
styles. The culture hero, whose main contribution to mankind was do- 
mesticated plants, is universal in the area, as indeed elsewhere. In some 
tales he is also the Creator; associated with him is a trickster, often his 
brother. For the Witoto we have a useful roster of themes, but Preuss's 
bias in favor of lunar interpretations mars his presentation. However, 
he shows the prevalence of stories revolving about the elopement of either 
spouse and the urge for vengeance (Preuss, 1921, 1 : 115 et seq.). 

In view of the nature of the available material, it is merely feasible to 
list a number of important motifs. Some of them have an extremely 
wide range, far beyond the Forest area, as demonstrated in Koch-Griin- 
berg's popular collection (1927). 

Remarkable is the Witoto story of the incestuous nocturnal lover whom 
his sister identifies by painting him (Preuss, 1922, pp. 107, 331). A 
still closer analogy to the Eskimo tale, however, occurs among the Ship- 
aya on the Iriri River, a tributary of the Xingii River, where the brother 
is identified with the moon, as he is by the Canelo of eastern Ecuador, 
the Warrau and Arawak of Guiana. (Nimuendajii, 1919-20, vols. 14-15, 
p. 1010 f.; Karsten, 1935, p. 522; Roth, 1915, p. 256.) 

A motif of pan-American interest that occurs in many distinct set- 
tings is the rolling skull. In the Cashinazva version, a decapitated man's 
skull rolls after his own kin, transforming itself into the moon and also 
creating the rainbow and menstruation (Capistrano de Abreu, quoted by 
Koch-Griinberg, 1927, p. 232 et seq.). The motif, known from the Chaco, 


occurs among such people as the Warrau and the Shipaya (Roth, 1915, 
pp. 129; Nimuendaju, 1921-22, p. 369). Its African occurrence raises 
the recurring problem of possible Negro influence (Weeks, 1913, p. 208), 
which arises also concerning the tale of the perverted message that brings 
death to mankind (Jurua-Purus). 

The magical flight, though rare in South America, is attested for the 
Mundurucu and the Carajd (Koch-Griinberg, 1927, pp. 203, 227). 

Sharpened-Leg, the man who whittles down his leg and attacks his 
companion with it, figures in Warrau and Carib lore (Roth, 1915, pp. 
195 f.), as well as in Shipaya (Nimuendaju, 1921-22, p. 370) and Ge 

The ascent to the sky by an arrow-chain is related by the Guarayu in 
the Madeira drainage (Koch-Griinberg, 1927, p. 283), as well as by the 
Jivaro, Tupinamha, Cunmna, and Chiriguano. The division of people 
in climbing from the sky to the earth or from the underworld to our 
earth because of a stout individual blocking the passage is common to 
the Warrau, Carajd, Mundurucu, and several tribes of the Montaiia. This 
certainly recalls the North American Mandan-Hidatsa story of the preg- 
nant woman breaking the vine that led from a cave to the upper world. 
The North American thunderbird also turns up (Chiriguano). 

Among more generic themes found within the area may be cited the 
suitor's tests, the deluge, the destruction of the world by fire, and etiolog- 
ical animal tales, the requisition of fire, and the Amazon women. 


Economic and technological pursuits involve considerable empirical 
knowledge, which is likewise displayed in the sportive mimicry of the 
animal dances. Intricately tied up with their practical occupations is 
the Indians' star lore. In Guiana, at least, the year is divided not into 
lunar months but into seasons defined, above all, by the regular suc- 
cession of the stars and constellations in certain positions in the sky. 
The Pleiades are of special importance, their rising from the east or 
disappearing in the west marking the advent of the wet and dry seasons 
and especially indicating the proper time to commence agricultural oper- 
ations. The various stars are also associated with game, fish, and plants 
in season. The year, in short, is determined by the reappearance of the 
Pleiades and is subdivided according to the appearance of other con- 
stellations, which are correlated with the abundance of economically sig- 
nificant animals and plants. The rainy and the dry season bear 
distinctive designations, and their advent is foretold by special observa- 
tions — on the size of the young turtles, the croaking of the rain frog, etc. 

To indicate the number of days before some such event as a feast, the 
Guiana host (or party of the first part) sends to the guest (or partner) 
a knotted string, of which he retains a replica. Each morning the two 


men concerned untie one knot, the knotless cord being supposed to cor- 
respond to the day of arrival. The Palicur substitute for the cord a 
bundle of rods suspended from a reed, turning down both ends of each 
stick every day (Nimuendaju, 1926, p. 94). This device strikingly 
resembles North American Choctaw practice. 

Distances are reckoned by the number of nights required for the 

Remarkable geographical knowledge and cartographic skill are evi- 
denced by the maps of the Taulipdng, who are accustomed to outline 
their itinerary on the ground and to indicate the shapes of mountains 
by an accumulation of sand. Native sketchers will recite the names of 
rivers and their affluents in order, marking waterfalls, and defining the 
appearance of peaks (Koch-Griinberg, 1923 b, pp. 90, 118; pis. 34, 35). 
Similar maps, including an astronomical star chart, are made in the 
Rio Negro region (Koch-Griinberg, 1921, pp. 160, 213). (Roth, 1924, 
pp. 715-720; see also upper Xingu, p. 348.) 


A Taulipdng never enters a strange house unbidden, but remains 
standing at the entrance until asked to enter. A speaker is never inter- 
rupted; on official occasions a long oration is merely punctuated by 
polite interjections on the auditor's part. In such situations neither 
interlocutor looks at the other, both staring fixedly into space — a usage 
rather common among South American tribes (Koch-Grunberg, 1923 b, 
p. Ill f.). On the Caiari River, any one leaving on a specific errand, 
such as going to hunt or farm or even to ease himself, announces the 
fact to the other inmates, who encourage him to go about his business 
(Koch-Grunberg, 1921, p. 280 f.). 

Commonly men and women eat separately. Hands are carefully washed 
before and after meals. At a party it is inadmissible to refuse a drink, 
for such an act evokes suspicion. 

The etiquette regulating kinship behavior and the procedures at cere- 
monial situations have ,been considered under appropriate heads (Roth, 
1924, pp. 235-239, 620-631). 

The widespread weeping salutation also appears in this area {Guarani, 


Acuiia, 1641; Bates, 1863 (1892) ; Friederici, 1925; Gillin, 1936; Im Thurn, 1883; 
Izikowitz, 1935; Karsten, 1935; Killip and Smith, 1931 ; Kirchhoflf, 1931, 1932; Koch- 
Grunberg, 1906 a, 1921, 1923 a, 1923 b, 1927; Kruse, 1934; Linne, 1925; Mangelsdorf 
and Reeves, 1939 ; Metraux, 1928 a, 1928 b ; Nimuendaju, 1914 c, 1919-20, 1921-22, 
1926, 1930 b; Nordenskiold, 1912, 1917 c, 1919 a, 1920, 1922, 1924 a, 1924 b, 1930 a, 
1930 c, 1931 b; Palmatary, 1939; Preuss, 1921, 1922; Roth, 1915, 1924; M. Schmidt, 
1905, 1914, 1917; Setchell, 1921; Speiser, 1926; Spix and Martius, 1823-31; Stirling, 
1938; Stolpe, 1927; Weeks, 1913 ; Whiffen, 1915. 

Part 1. The Coastal and Amazonian Tupi 


By Fkancisco de Aparicio 


At the beginning of historic times various groups of native peoples 
lived along the lower Parana River, from its confluence with the Paraguay 
to the Delta. Some of these peoples were island dwellers and navigators ; 
others lived along the banks of the river and were adapted to both a 
riverine and terrestrial life. Still others were land hunters who, perhaps, 
came only seasonally to the river to fish. The latter do not concern us 
here, but the first two groups, the island peoples and those who lived 
permanently along the Parana littoral are considered here as typical 
inhabitants of the Parana. 


At its confluence with the Paraguay, the Parana River turns south 
to form the lower Parana. In this southward course its width varies 
from 1 to 234 kilometers (^ to Ij^ miles) in the north and gradually 
widens toward the south. The great volume of alluvium which the river 
carries has resulted in the formation of numerous islands at the Delta 
which are dissected by small streams. Ramirez, in referring to these 
islands, said that : "There were so many that they could not be counted." 
They are a characteristic feature of the Parana Delta landscape, and they 
offered, in the past, exceptionally advantageous sites for the dwellings 
of native peoples. 

The banks of the Parana are quite irregular in appearance. The left 
margin, from Corrientes to Diamante, where the formation of the Delta 
begins, is in some places high and falls sharply to the river, forming 
steep bluffs 30 meters (about 100 ft.) in height. At other places the 
decline from the high ground to the river is more gradual. These 
gradual slopes usually form the transitional terrain between the river and 
the typical monte country of the region. The right margin of the Parana, 
on the other hand, is low. A flooded zone, of 10 to 40 kilometers (about 
6 to 25 miles) in width, borders the river down to the city of Santa Fe. 



From there, to the confluence of the Carcarana, the Coronda subsidiary 
defines the edge of the firm land that rises only a little above the ordinary 
level of the waters. South of the Carcarana, the river bank rises to high 
clififs ; and these highlands, in some places, continue inland for a short 
distance. This same topography continues down the Plata to the vicinity 
of Buenos Aires. The Indians occupied these highlands, and undoubtedly 
it was on the heights that the conquistadors had their first contact with 
the natives, as the flood plains were nearly always inaccessible. 

The lower Parana has numerous left tributaries, the most voluminous 
of which is the Ibera draining a large basin. The other tributaries flow 
from the western watershed of the Argentine Mesopotamia. These 
rivers were good locations for primitive communities, but archeological 
evidence indicates that they were occupied only near their mouths. On 
the right bank, the Parana receives two tributaries which were of great 
significance in the life of the pre-Columbian populations. These are 
the Salado, which crosses the country from the border of the Puna de 
Atacama to Santa Fe, and the Carcarafia, which descends the Sierra de 
Comechingones. According to the geographical information which the 
Indians of Sancti Spiritu supplied to the explorer Cabot, it is evident 
that these two rivers, and especially the Salado, must have served as 
important routes of native commerce. Typical Parana cultures had, how- 
ever, penetrated only a few kilometers up the Salado, and no remains 
of the Parana type have ever been discovered on the Carcarafia. In the 
northern part of the Province of Santa Fe, the rivers that run parallel 
to the Parana before entering it duplicate its general environmental 

The Delta embraces approximately 200 kilometers (125 miles) of the 
lower course of the Parana. This extremely low region is intersected 
by a great number of streams, and it is subject to the tides of the Rio 
de la Plata, which inundate it periodically. During these floods only 
a few small, unusually high areas remain above the waters. On such 
areas are found the remains of the indigenous peoples of the region. 

The shores of the Parana are covered, for the most part, with monte 
(shrub vegetation) of a Mesopotamian type. The abundance of the 
flora varies considerably according to the latitude or to which river 
bank is involved. A hydrophyllic vegetation thrives in the insular region 
of the Delta, the most common species being the willow {Salix hum- 
holtiana), the ceiba (Erythrina crista-galli) , and the yatay palm (Cocos 
yatay), the last a conspicuous tree the fruit of which was used by the 
Indians. In general, the insular landscape is characterized by swamp 
and aquatic vegetation of extraordinary exhuberance. 

The rich Parana flora afforded the Indian refuge and materials for 
shelter, but it yielded no important food element. The fauna, however, 
abundantly satisfied almost all the needs of the early inhabitants. 


Plate 9. — Plastic representations from the Parana River country, a-c, Zoo- 
morphic handles, Malabrigo; d, human-head handle, vicinity of city of Parana; 
e-h, silhouette rim attachments; i, j, free representations of birds, (a and c, 
Approximately yi actual size; b and d, approximately % actual size; e-h, approxi- 
mately Ys actual size; i and.;, approximately }i actual size.) (Courtes}' Museo 
Etnografico de la J^acultad de Filosofia y Letras, Buenos Aires.) 

Plate 10. — Parana River area sherds, a-e, Incised lines with notched or punc- 
tated interiors ("drag-and-jab" technique); /, g, sherds of the insular delta 
complex. (Courtesy Museo Etnogrdfico de la Facultad de Filosofia y Letras, 
Buenos Aires.) 



A brief analysis of the archeology of the Parana demonstrates three 
distinct archeological complexes: two in the region of the Delta, and 
a third which is found along both shores of the river above the Delta. 
The accounts of the early European discoverers of this country indicate 
that the Indians whom they encountered belonged to different tribes 
or "nations." In interpreting the written sources by comparing them 
with the archeological evidence, it becomes clear that there were three 
outstanding aboriginal groups. 

The first of these were the Querandi, who lived in the territory of 
Sancti Spiritu: The "people of the country," as Ramirez called them. 
Oviedo y Valdes (1851-55) says that they were inland dwellers, and 
Sebastian Cabot {in Medina, 1908) affirms that their territory extended to 
the foot of the mountains. They occasionally reached the coast, and 
this explains why their name was given to the creek at whose mouth 
the Portuguese explorer Lopes de Sousa set up two landmarks bearing 
the coat of arms of his king. Later, Mendoza, according to Ulrich 
Schmidel (1903), encountered the Querandi in the region where the Port 
of Santa Maria de Buen Aire was situated. These Indians, in spite 
of their presence on the coast, cannot be considered as typical inhabitants 
of the Parana and are not treated in this paper. Undoubtedly, they did 
not form a tribe, properly speaking, but were a band or a group who, 
a little after the second founding of Buenos Aires, are no longer mentioned 
but became confused with the other Indians of the plains and were in- 
cluded under the general name of "Pampas." 

The second important group were the Guarani, who inhabited some 
of the islands and navigated the Parana, "because they were the enemies 
of all the other nations," says Ramirez. The Guarani left behind ceme- 
teries with urn burials and other types of characteristic remains. Finally, 
the chroniclers mention a series of people who lived along the banks 
of the river : Carcarai, Ghana, Begua, Ghana-Timbu, Timbu, Mocoretai, 
Gamarao, Mepene. All of these peoples were, evidently, small bands 
belonging to a larger group, the third major group of the area. The 
archeological evidence found along the shores of the Parana verifies 
the testimony of the conquistadors who, although they gave many 
names to these people, left no doubt that culturally they were funda- 
mentally uniform. To these people can be assigned the dominant archeo- 
logical complex of the Parana, characterized by the ceramic representa- 
tions and accompanying other remains (Aparicio, 192&-29). 

The sites, other than those of the Guarani, which have been found on 
the "cerritos" (small elevations) of the Delta cannot yet be assigned to 
any of the people mentioned in the early literature. All that is known 
of these people is confined to the archeological materials themselves. 
These materials differ both from the Parana complex of the ceramic 



plastic representations and from those of the Guarani sites. It is very 
possible that when the remains from some of the sites of the right margin 
of the Rio de la Plata are better known that these will prove to have 
a close relationship with those from the Delta "cerritos." 


The excavation of the "Tumulo Prehistorico de Campana," made around 
1877 by Don Estanislao S. Zeballos and Pedro P. Pico (1878), began 
archeological research along the Parana and was also the first systematic 
investigation of an Argentine archeological site. Several years later, in 
1893-94, Ambrosetti found fragments of decorated pottery in Entre Rios 
and a handsome collection of plastic representations in pottery from the 
site of Goya. Further field work was not attempted along the Parana 
littoral until Frenguelli and the present author discovered important 
sites on the Malabrigo River. Other minor discoveries were also made 
by Frenguelli, by the author, and by Antonio Serrano. 

The Delta of the Parana is known from the works of L. M. Torres 
(1913) and from the recent excavations of the North American, Samuel 
K. Lothrop. 

The bibliography relative to Parana archeology includes important 
works of other authors — Ameghino, Lafone Quevedo, Outes, and Torres. 
These are, however, monographic treatments of selected themes and are 
based upon rapid exploratory trips, occasional discoveries, or library 
research. The present brief synthesis is based, for the most part, upon 
the personal investigations carried out in the lower Parana region by 
the author. These investigations are only partly published. 



Campana and Goya are the classic sites of the Parana littoral. The 
first was studied with surprising care for the period in which the excava- 
tions were made (1877). The investigators stated, with regard to the 
nature of the mound: 

We established o priori that this monument was a tumulus similar to those found 
in the different territories of Europe and the Americas. Its material consists of 
decayed vegetal substances and Quaternary deposits. Taking the form of an ellipse, 
its major diameter measures 79 varas [approximately 220 feet, or 70 m.] ; the lesser 
diameter was 32 varas [approximately 90 ft., or 30 m.] ; and its greatest height was 
2J/2 varas [approximately 7 ft., or 2.2 m.] above the surrounding ground. [Zeballos 
and Pico, 1878.] 

Zeballos defined the mound, on the basis of its general appearance, 
as a tumulus comparable to the earth monuments of other continents. 
At about the same time, some similar sites had been discovered by re- 


liable amateurs in the lowlands of southern Entre Rios. The coincidence 
of these discoveries was commented upon by Ameghino, shortly after 
this, leading to the supposition of the existence of a culture or "a people 
of the tumuli." 

At Goya, Ambrosetti made very rapid and superficial observations, 
and his descriptions do not give a clear idea of the conditions under 
which he discovered the material which he describes. However, judging 
from investigations in many other sites along the Parana, it is evident 
that Ambrosetti was investigating a site quite typical of the region. These 
sites are always found on the banks of the river or of its tributaries, 
and are situated on high ground above the zone of inundations. The 
cultural remains are always found at a very slight depth, immediately 
below the humus. They consist of potsherds, apparently scattered in- 
tentionally, hearths, remains of food, and human bones coming from 
secondary inhumations. The writer has noted sites of this type in Cor- 
rientes, in the vicinity of the city of Parana, near Diamante and Victoria, 
in Gaboto and other places along the right bank of the Coronda, and 
in various localities north of the city of Santa Fe. A site of the same 
type, but located on low ground in the insular region, is Las Tejas, ex- 
plored by Antonio Serrano, in the vicinity of the Lake of Coronda. 

The better-known sites of the Parana are, however, those of the right 
bank of the Malabrigo River. They are located upon a series of hills 
that extend a short distance from the edge of the river. Frenguelli 
remarks that, taking into account the "characteristic alignment [of these 
hills] upon the edge of a fluvial valley, and the nature and homogeneity 
of the materials that compose them," they must be interpreted "as ancient 
aeolian accumulations [sand dunes] more or less affected by later weather 
action, that shaped them in the form of hills, which are likely places, 
in these regions, for the refuge of indigenous populations" (Frenguelli 
and Aparicio, 1923). In all of the mounds explored, artifacts and human 
skeletal remains have been found at only a very slight depth in the sand. 


In the insular region and the bordering lowlands of the Delta, a country 
subjected to periodic flooding or tidal action of the estuary of the Rio 
de la Plata, locations of aboriginal dwellings were limited to only a few 
elevated places, which are referred to today as "cerritos," or little hills. 
In them are found cultural refuse and human burials. Because of their 
appearance, as small mounds rising above the surrounding lowlands, these 
"cerritos" have been considered by some authorities, especially Torres, 
as true tumuli that were deliberately constructed by man. However, 
Lothrop, who has explored one of these "mounds," believes that their 
artificial elevation is the inadvertent accumulation of detritus left by 


human occupation. Outes, who explored a site of this type in Mazaruca, 
also tends to this latter view: 

Mazaruca, as with the great majority of the other burial places in more or less 
isolated elevations, is a relatively consolidated sand dune. Some of these dunes are 
covered by a cap of humus, deep enough to be considered the product of the slow 
transformation of the coarse quartz sand which forms the underlying material of 
the dune, and to which has been added continuously detritus carried by floods and 
the decomposed organic matter from the rank vegetation that covers the surface 
ot the marsh. [Outes, 1912.] 

The author has had occasion to investigate a similar site in "La Argen- 
tina," in the region of Mazaruca, and concurs with Outes ( Aparicio, 1928) . 
It is unfortunate that a comprehensive study of the geological nature of 
the "cerritos" has not yet been made. 



Plastic representations. — The sites along the shores of the Parana 
are characterized by modeled pottery figures or plastic representations, 
with which are associated quantities of potsherds, plain, incised, and, 
in a few cases, painted. By and large, however, the materials, which 
are almost exclusively ceramics, are of rather poor quality and of 
monotonous uniformity. 

All of the plastic representations are hand-made, and knowledge of 
molds was lacking. All of the figures conform to a definite art style 
which distinguishes them from comparable pottery representations found 
in other American areas.^ The native artists of the Parana interpreted 
the regional fauna with surprising talent and sensibility. They were 
sometimes able to reproduce nature with a masterly realism; in other 
instances, they modified the form until they achieved stylizations of a 
disconcerting audacity. Both types of depiction are usually complemented 
by incised decoration which is purely geometric and in no sense zoomor- 
phic characterizations. 

The plastic representations, in some cases, were adornos on pottery 
vessels, serving either as handles or simply as added ornaments. The 
figure handles are bulky and are attached to the vessel walls ; the purely 
decorative adornos are silhouette forms which appear to have been added 
to the rims as an extention of the vessel wall. In both cases, the figures 
have the same paste, firing, finish, etc., as the vessels of which they form 
a part. 

^ Attention has often been called to the analogies existing between the plastic representations of 
the Parand and of the Amazon and other regions of the continent. Nordenskiold in studying this 
problem contrasted a series of schematic drawings. As in such schemes, the sculptures have lost 
all stylistic quality, and the resemblances of one with the other are therefore surprising. However, 
anyone who has seen an appreciable quantity of plastic representations of the Parand and of the 
Amazon, and who has some artistic sensibility, would not hesitate to declare the analogy to be of 
theme and not of style. 


The function of the separate or free figures can only be conjectured. 
They differ from the attached figures in being larger and usually solid 
rather than hollow, as is the case with the latter. 

At the sites of Malabrigo, Resistencia, Campana, and Goya, the figures 
are almost exclusively of the attached type. In sites of the river country 
of Santa Fe, between San Jose del Rincon and Gaboto, and in those 
along the banks of the Parana between the city of Parana and the Delta 
(such as Las Tejas), the free figures have been found in greater 
abundance. As there is a fairly adequate bibliography upon this subject, 
only a few typical examples of the plastic representations will be illustrated 
and discussed here. Plate 9, a, a handle figure from Malabrigo, is a 
magnificent example of interpretative realism. Although executed in 
a slovenly manner and free of all technical preoccupation, it unites sur- 
prising elements of expression and life. The beak is exaggerated in its 
dimensions but faithfully portrayed ; the fierce expression of the eye and 
the tufted crest give the head a singular dynamism and exceptional vitality. 
The decorations of the piece have been executed with a marked lack of 
prolixity. They consist simply of a series of parallel rows of punctations 
that run perpendicular to the tufted crest and cover both sides of the 
face. Below, and at the sides of the beak, this simple ornamental feature 
is repeated in smaller size. Another handle representation from Mal- 
abrigo (pi. 9, h) is a good example of extreme stylization. Although 
this head has the same general characteristics as the last, the artist's 
intent was obviously different. His interest was not in achieving sincere 
realism, but in producing a graceful and elegant formalism, which he 
accomplished with admirable simplicity by portraying a beak of dispro- 
portionate size and a long undulant crest which extends down the back 
of the head. The crest plays an important decorative role, complementing 
two grooved projections at the sides of the head. Ornamentation is 
limited to some parallel zigzag lines. This particular specimen is almost 
completely covered with red ocher. 

The great parrots were the preferred subjects of the native sculptors 
of the Parana littoral, and representations of them constitute an over- 
whelming majority of known specimens. Other birds and animals were 
also portrayed. Plate 9, c, another handle specimen from Malabrigo, 
is a beautiful example of an owl. The artist has retained only features 
necessary to the characterization: Eyes, "horns," and beak. He has 
represented them with great ease and assurance. 

The artists made human representations much less often than animals, 
and with less success. An example of accentuated human realism is the 
little head (pi. 9, d) from the vicinity of the city of Parana. 

No intact vessel has yet been discovered with two figure handles attached, 
but the great number of rim sherds with such attachments leaves little 


doubt that such handles were used on vessels, e. g., figure 4, a nearly 
complete specimen from Las Tejas, Santa Fe. The handles on this piece 
are of an exceptional type, as the zoomorphic figure has been depicted 
as an entire body rather than by the usual practice of simply showing 
it as a head (Aparicio, 1925). 

Figure 4. — Parana River vessel v;rith zoomorphic handles. (Courtesy Museo Etno- 
gralico de la Facultad de Filosofia y Letras, Buenos Aires.) 

The silhouette rim attachments which the author first discovered and 
published some years ago, are definitely in the artistic style of the Parana 
plastic representations (pi. 9, e-h). The silhouettes have been made by 

cutting out the outline of the animal which is being represented from a flat piece of 
clay. The surfaces of the figures are then treated somewhat in the manner of relief 
sculpture, in some cases to augment the characterization intended, and in others 
simply to decorate the figures. [Aparicio, 1923.] 

Various examples of separate or free representations, either complete 
or fragmentary, have been examined by the author. Plate 9, i, can be 
considered typical. Artistically, it is contemptible. The heavy modeled 
parrot is scarcely recognizable. The head reproduced in plate 9, /, though 
of unusual beauty, is no doubt a similar piece. Although the subject 
has been drastically conventionalized, the essential characteristics — beak, 
crest, and throat — enable one to recognize it immediately as a royal condor. 
The head is covered with incised decoration, which, as usual, is discon- 
nected and seems to lack design plan. 

Pottery. — Plastic representations are always found in association with 
plain, incised, and painted potsherds. Some instances of combined paint- 
ing and incision have also been noted. Various ornamental combinations 
have been made with incised lines, but these have not yet been system- 
atically analyzed. These decorative combinations show some similarity 
to comparable pottery decorations from other primitive cultures. How- 
ever, the exact nature of these incised decorations, and the manner in 


which they have been executed, is characteristic of the Parana littoral. 
Incision was made in the soft paste by a small pointed instrument which 
effected a series of successive impressions, or a groove with a notched 
interior. These notched grooved lines ("drag-and-jab") vary consider- 
ably, depending upon the size and shape of the instrument used. Plate 
10, a-e, shows a random selection of such sherds. At a glance one can 
see the identity of the pottery decorations with those found on the plastic 

In addition, pottery decorated with incised lines and separate puncta- 
tions is not lacking. Pottery may also have the most elementary sort of 
decorative treatment: fingernail impressions and finger-and-fingernail 
impressions in various combinations. These latter types are, nevertheless, 
in the minority, and they cannot be considered as typical manifestations of 
the culture. (See concluding section of Guarani influences.) 

The people of the Parana littoral apparently had the custom of inten- 
tionally destroying their pottery and other ceramic artifacts. Because of 
this, very few complete specimens are now extant. The sherds, however, 
reveal that there were various vessel forms, some small and carefully 
made, others large, coarse, and without decoration. There is only one 
good example of a vessel of the finer ware; but there are, perhaps, a 
dozen of the large coarse vessels. These latter are usually subglobular in 
shape. All complete vessels have been brought together in a special 
monograph (Iribarne, 1937). 

Miscellaneous ceramic objects. — Exceptionally, in some sites, pipes, 
pendants, and spindle whorls have been found. 

Nonceramic objects. — Artifacts of stone or bone are extremely scarce. 
In Malabrigo, the stone industry can be considered nonexistent ; in Goya, 
four worked stone artifacts and several bolas were found; in Campana, 
Zeballos and Pico mention the finding of 1 50 pieces of worked and polished 
stone. Unfortunately, this last material was lost and there is no descrip- 
tion available. However, the exceptional lithic representation at Campana 
can be satisfactorily explained if it is realized that the site lies on the 
periphery of the Parana littoral culture. This stone artifact complex was 
probably the result of contact with neighboring peoples. 

Bone artifacts are similar to stone artifacts in their occurrence. Their 
presence at Campana, again, must be explained by the geographical loca- 
tion of the site. 


The Delta culture of the "cerritos." — Although the general aspect of 
the Delta sites is more or less uniform, the contents of these sites is 
variable. Some sites contain urn burials accompanied by a very charac- 
teristic artifact complex. Other sites have direct inhumations accompanied 
by unspecialized ceramics and bone artifacts. The latter correspond to 


sites already mentioned, with the exception of Arroyo Malo explored by 
Lothrop (1932). 

The sites with the direct inhumations and the nondistinctive archeo- 
logical content, represent the insular culture of the "cerritos," presumably 
the remains of the ancient occupants of the Delta. In addition to being 
little specialized, and lacking in definitive characteristics, the pottery and 
artifacts from the "cerritos" are very scarce. Skeletal remains, on the 
other hand, are quite abundant. The potsherds that have been found 
show very simple line and punctate combinations. They differ, signifi- 
cantly, from those attributed to the peoples of the Guaycuru family, and, 
even more strikingly, from the well-known Guarani ceramics. In plate 
10, /, g, are shown sherds from the sites of the insular Delta complex. 
(Cf. with pi. 10, a-e.) 

A stone industry is very poorly represented in these Delta sites. Those 
artifacts found probably were trade pieces received from neighboring 
peoples. Artifacts of bone and horn, such as awls, punches, and points, 
although not highly specialized or differentiated, are the most typical. 

Guarani influences. — Various sites of the Delta are characterized by 
great funerary urns. Despite the fact that investigations at only one such 
site have been fully published (Lothrop, 1932, Arroyo Malo), the artifact 
complex associated with this culture of the urn burials is well known and 
is attributed to the Guarani peoples. The distribution of Guarani finds 
is very extensive, allowing comparisons with similar discoveries made in 
relatively remote regions, such as the upper Parana and the upper Para- 
guay Rivers. In addition, they are also found throughout the entire 
geographical area to which we have been referring in this paper. Some- 
times these Gwarawf-type finds are found by themselves ; in other instances 
they are found as intrusions into archeological strata of other cultures. 

The Guarani funerary urns have peculiar forms. The surfaces are 
plain or fingernail marked, or, more rarely, they are completely or par- 
tially painted with polychrome decorations (fig. 5; pis. 11, 12). Frag- 
ments of pottery are also found in association with the burial urns. These 
suggest vessels of different forms and uses which have been decorated in 
a similar manner to the funerary vessels. 

There are also typical stone artifacts in association with the above 
pottery. These are polished axes and lip plugs of various forms. 


Ambrosetti, 1893, 1894 ; Ameghino, 1880-81 ; Aparicio, 1923, 1925, 1928, 1928-1929 ; 
Cabot {in Medina, 1908); Frenguelli and Aparicio, 1923; Iribarne, 1937; Lafone- 
Quevedo, 1909; Lothrop, 1932; Outes, 1912; Oviedo y Valdes, 1851-55; Schmidel, 
1903 ; Torres, L. M., 1913 ; Zeballos and Pico, 1878. 



Figure S.—Guarani pottery from the Parana Delta. Top: Painted, fingernail-marked, 
and plain wares. Bottom: Painted urn (height, 18 inches (44.5 cm.)). (Courtesy 
Museo Etnografico de la FacuUad de Filosofia y Letras, Buenos Aires; and after 
Lothrop, 1932, pi. 10.) 

6S3333— 47— 8 


By Alfred Metraux 


The area inhabited by the Guarani (map 1, No. 1 ; see Volume 1, 
map 7) has shrunk considerably since the 16th century. Today the 
Guarani who have preserved their cultural identity form isolated islands 
in Paraguay and southern Brazil. The subtribes mentioned by Spanish 
conquistadors and missionaries have disappeared, and the names which 
designate modern Guarani groups are fairly recent and appear in the 
literature only in the 18th century. Therefore, it is necessary to deal 
with ancient and modern Guarani as if they were separate entities. The 
Guarani language, however, is still spoken by Mestizos, or acculturated 
Indians, in most of the territory where it was used at the time of the 
Conquest. The rural population of Paraguay is often called Guarani. 
Therefore, in order to avoid confusion between these modern civilized 
Guarani and their primitive contemporaries, we shall always refer to 
the latter as Caingud. 

Guarani of the 16th and 17th centuries. — The Guarani were first 
known as Carijo or Carlo, but the name Guarani finally prevailed in the 
17th century. At this time, the Guarani were the masters of the Atlantic 
Coast from Barra de Cananea to Rio Grande do Sul, (lat. 26°-33° S., 
long. 48°-52° W.) and from there their groups extended to the Parana, 
Uruguay, and Paraguay Rivers. 

Guarani groups, called by the early chroniclers "Guarani de las islas," 
Chandris, or Chandules, lived in the 16th century on the islands of the 
Rio de la Plata, and on the southern side of the Parana Delta from San 
Isidro to the vicinity of the Carcarana River (lat. 34° S., long. 58° W.) 
There were some Guarani enclaves along the Uruguayan shore, at Martin 
Chico, and from San Lazaro to San Salvador. Pottery vessels of un- 
mistakable Guarani origin have been found near San Francisco Soriano 
and Concordia in Uruguay, on the island of Martin Garcia and at Arroyo 
Malo, between the Lujan River and the Parana de las Palmas River. 

On the eastern side of the Uruguay River, the borderline between the 
Charrua and the bulk of the Guarani nation ran near Yapeyu. On the 



western side, the Guarani occupied all the land from Yapeyii to the 
Parana River (Serrano, 1936, p. 121). From the junction of the 
Parana and Paraguay Rivers, Guarani villages were distributed con- 
tinuously up the eastern side of the Paraguay River and up both sides 
of the Parana River. They reached north to the Mbotetey (Miranda) 
River (lat. 20° S.,), and east probably to the Serras de Amambay and 
Maracayu. The Guarani were especially numerous in the Parana Basin 
and in the Province of Guaira. There were also countless settlements 
along the tributaries of the Parana River, the boundary between the 
Tupinakin and Guarani being approximately the Tiete River. The 
Guarani extended south to the Province of Tape (today, Serra Geral). 

Although Guarani was the generic name of this widespread people, 
the Spaniards in the 16th and 17th centuries distinguished local tribes 
by special names. Around Lagoa dos Patos, the Guarani were called 
Arechane (lat. 32° S., long. 51° W.) ; from the Apa River to the Mbotetey 
(Miranda) River, Itatin (lat. 22° S., long. 57° W.) ; in the Serra Geral 
and Rio Grande do Sul, Tape (lat. 30° S., long. 52° W.) ; around San 
Estanislao and San Joaquin, Tobatin; on the Ypane River, Guarambare 
(lat. 23° S., long. 56° W.) ; and on the Ivahy (Ivahyete) River, Taioba. 
Tribes with a different language and culture, such as the Caingang, or 
with a diflferent culture, such as the Guayaki, were scattered among the 

In the second half of the 17th century, the Northern Guarani or Itatin, 
were driven south by the Mbayd-Guaicuru, a Chaco tribe. 

Modern Guarani tribes. — Since the 18th century, the Guarani groups 
who had remained independent and had not been collected in missions 
have been distinguished from the Christianized Guarani by the name 
Caingud {Kaa-thwua, Kaingua, Cayua, Monteses), which means "In- 
habitants of the Forest." 

About 1800, the Caingud {Caagua) inhabited the headwaters of the 
Iguatemi River, extending north toward the upper Miranda River to 
Cerro Pyta in the Cordillera de San Jose near the headwaters of the 
Ypane River. They also lived near the Jejui-guazii (Jejui) and the 
Aguaray-guazii Rivers and in the vicinity of the cities of Curuguaty, 
San Joaquin, and San Estanislao (Azara, 1904, p. 407). 

The Caingud proper lived on the Ypane River, the Carima in the Serra 
Maracayu (lat. 23° S., long. 54° W.), and the Taruma east of the Yhu 
River (lat. 24° S., long. 56° W.). 

The Indians who at the end of the 18th century lived on the right 
side of the Parana River between the Guarapay and Monday Rivers 
and on the left side of the Parana River from Corpus to the Iguassu 
River, were known as Guayana (lat. 26° S., long. 56° W.). A group of 
these Guayana still exists at Villa Azara on the stream Pira-pyta. These 
Guarani-s^eakmg Guayand should not be confused with the ancient 


Guayand of Sao Paulo and Parana, who were Caingang Indians (Azara, 
1904, p. 406). 
Modern Caingud (Caaigud) are divided into three groups: 

(1) The Mbyd (Mbwiha, Ava-mbihd, Caaygud, Apytere, Baticola), 
who occupy the forested spurs of the Serra de Maracayu (lat. 25° -27° 
S., long. 55° W.) and the region around Corpus in the Argentine terri- 
tory of Misiones. Groups of Mbyd (or Caingud) are even more widely 
scattered in Mato Grosso and in the States of Parana and Rio Grande 
do Sul. 

(2) The Chiripd, who live south of the Jejua-guazu River and are 
also reported on the right and left sides of the upper Parana River, along 
the Yuytorocai River and north of the Iguassu River (lat. 25° S., long. 
54°-56° W.). 

(3) The Pan' (Terenohe), who live north of the Jejui-guazii River. 
Of these three groups, the Mbyd have remained the closest to their 

ancient Guarani culture; the Chiripd are the most acculturated. 

There are also several groups of Caingud or Guarani in Brazil. The 
Apapocuva (lat. 24° S., long. 54° W.) regard themselves as distinct from 
the Paraguayan Caingud although they are closely related to them. Before 
they started in 1870 trekking east in search of the Land-Without-Evil 
(see below, p. 93), they lived on the lower Iguatemi River, in the 
southern tip of the State of Mato Grosso. In 1912, 200 still lived on 
the Iguatemi River ; about 200 in the reservation of Arariba, in the State 
of Sao Paulo ; 100 on the Rio das Cinzas, in the State of Parana ; about 
70 in Potrero Guazu, in Mato Grosso; and about 40 at the mouth of 
the Ivahi River. The Tanygud, who also made this trek, resided on 
the Parana River near the Iguatemi River (lat. 23° S., long. 54° W.). 
After a long migration which took them to the Atlantic Coast, they became 
established on the Rio de Peixe and the Itariry River, where a few of 
them still remained in 1912. 

The ancient habitat of the Oguauiva, from which they migrated toward 
the Ocean in 1830, was situated near the Serra de Maracayu (lat. 24° 
S., long 54° W.). In 1912, 100 Oguauiva lived in the reservation of 
Arariba, and 40 near the coast. 

The other Caingud groups who, according to Nimuendajii (1914 a, 
p. 293), lived in southern Brazil about 1912 were: The Cheiru/ near 
the mouth of the Iguatemi ; the Avahuguai, on the Dourados ; the Paiguagu, 
on the Curupayna River (Mato Grosso) ; the Yvytyigud, opposite the 
Serra do Diabo, in the State of Parana ; the Avachiripd, on the left side 
of the Parana (State of Parana) ; the Catanduva Jatahy, in the same State. 

The Apapocuva, Tanygud, Oguauiva, and Cheiru are regarded as 
Guarani whereas the Avahuguai, Paiguagu, Yvytyigud, Avachiripd, and 

' There are also Cheiru in Paraguay near the Guaira Falls. 


Catanduvd are designated in Brazil under the generic term of Caiud 

The Ivapare {Are, Shetd), erroneously called Botocudo or Notoboto- 
ciido because of their wooden labrets, are a Gwamm'-speaking group living 
on the Ivahy River, near the Ranharanha (Ariranha) Cachoeira (lat. 24° 
S., long. 53° W.). These Indians have abandoned farming, and roam in 
the forests like the Guayaki (Borba, 1904, Loukotka, 1929). 

At present most of the Caingud groups are in constant contact with the 
Mestizos and Whites, and many Caingud work as peons in the estancias, 
in the mate or lumber camps. With the earned money they buy clothes, 
tools, food, pots, sugar, and salt. Consequently, they have abandoned 
weaving and even their native ware. On the other hand, they still culti- 
vate the same plants as their ancestors. 

Population. — Nimuendaju (1914 a, p. 293) estimated in 1912 the total 
number of the Brazilian Caingud at about 3,000. 

Sources. — Information on the ancient Guarani is scanty and fragmen- 
tary, but can be supplemented by our better knowledge of their descend- 
ants, the numerous Caingud tribes of Paraguay and southern Brazil. 
Moreover, from all available evidence, ancient Guarani culture appears to 
be basically like that of their neighbors and kinsmen, the coastal Tupi. 

Most of the data on the ancient Guarani used in this chapter come from 
the "Comentarios de Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca" (see Pedro Her- 
nandez, 1852), Schmidel (1903), Ruiz de Montoya's (1892) "Conquista 
espiritual," and the "Cartas anuas de la Compania de Jesus" (1927-29). 
Del Techo (1673, 1897) and Lozano (1873-75), who often have been 
regarded among our best authorities on the Guarani, obtained most of 
their data from Jesuit reports (Cartas anuas). 

The earUest description of the Caingud appears in Dobrizhoffer (1874). 
Azara's (1809, 1904) often-quoted passages on the Guarani should be 
used with caution. Rengger (1835) in the beginning of the 19th century 
and Vogt (1904), Ambrosetti (1895 b), and Vellard (1939 a) in recent 
times have contributed good information on the material culture of the 
Paraguayan Caingud. On the Cayud of Southern Brazil, we have a 
monograph by Von Koenigswald (1908). The outstanding sources on 
the modern Guarani, or Caingud, are a monograph by Nimuendaju (1914 
a) on the religion and mythology of the Apapocuva-Guarani, and a series 
of studies by Father Franz Miiller (1934-35) on the Paraguayan Caingud. 

Pablo Hernandez's (1913) monumental work is the most complete 
modern source on the history and organization of the Jesuit missions. 
Cardiel's (1900) "Declaracion de la verdad" and Muratori's (1754) 
"Nouvelles des missions du Paraguay" are excellent 18th-century treatises 
on life in the missions. 



Many archeological finds have been made in the area formerly inhabited 
by the Guarani, but only a few systematic investigations have ever been 
undertaken of ancient sites or cemeteries. The attribution of some of the 
remains unearthed in former Guarani territory is often uncertain because 
the Guarani seem to have been late comers in the regions where we find 
them in the 16th century. They were preceded by people of different 
prehistoric cultures, some of which, such as the Caingang, have survived 
up to the present. The main problems center around classification of 
stone implements, which cannot always be easily distinguished from those 
produced by the early non-Guarani population. Pottery, however, leaves 
little or no margin for doubt. The aboriginal occupants of Paraguay or 
southern Brazil had either no ceramics or else only a very crude ware. 
Guarani ware presents the following features: A corrugated decoration 
produced by thumb impressions on the soft clay, linear designs in red 
and black on a whitish background, and the use of large conical chicha 
jars as funeral urns (pis. 11, 12). 

There is a striking resemblance between the pottery of the ancient 
Tupinamha of the coast (Netto, 1885; Ihering, 1904) and that of the 
Guarani of Paraguay. The modern Chiriguano, descendants of Guarani 
invaders from Paraguay, still make chicha jars almost identical in shape 
and decoration to those which are so often unearthed in their home country. 
Moreover, typical Guarani vases have been found associated with rosin 
labrets, a lip ornament still worn by modern Caingud. 

Direct, or primary, urn burial was the usual form of interment among 
the Guarani and persists among the Chiriguano of Bolivia. Archeology 
has amply confirmed the statements of early writers. The corpse was 
forced with the limbs flexed into a jar and covered with another vessel. 

Ihering (1895, 1904), Mayntzhusen (1912), Ullrich (1906), Kunert 
(1890, 1891, 1892), Kunike (1911), Meyer (1896), Ambrosetti (1895 b), 
Vellard (1934), and Linne (1936) have described isolated finds. Max 
Schmidt (1932) has given a list of recent discoveries and has attempted 
to make a classification of the rich archeological material in the Museum 
of Asuncion. Pottery of unmistakable Guarani origin has been collected 
on the islands of the Parana Delta (pi. 11, fop, center). They have been 
pubhshed and discussed by L. M. Torres (1913) and Outes (1917, 1918). 
Lothrop (1932, pp. 122-146) has given us a careful description of the 
results of his investigation in a Guarani cemetery at Arroyo Malo, a small 
tributary of the Lujan River, east of El Tigre, in the Province of Buenos 
Aires. Serrano (1936) has dealt with Guarani archeology in connection 
with his study of the ancient native cultures of Uruguay. 

The ware found in areas historically occupied by Guarani tribes con- 
sists mainly of funeral urns, large plates or vessels used as lids for these 
urns, and some pots which formed part of the funerary equipment. 


Funeral urns, which originally were chicha jars, are of two main types : 

(1) those decorated on the upper part with rows of corrugated impres- 
sions or markings produced either with the fingers or with a stick, and 

(2) painted ones. 

The urns of the first category usually have a conical shape with a 
bulging upper part and a low outflaring or direct rim (pi. 11, bottom, 
lejt). Those of the second type are usually biconical with a flat or 
rounded bottom and a direct rim which often presents a median ridge 
(pi. 12, a). The height of the urns normally varies between 40 to 70 cm. 
(16 to 28 in.) and their diameter between 46 to 76 cm. (19 to 50 in.). 
A few specimens are one meter (3 ft.) high. 

Smaller vessels are (1) undecorated, (2) covered on their entire outer 
surface by fingernail marks (pi. 11), (3) painted (pi. 12), and (4) 
painted on the inside and decorated with fingernail marks or corrugated 
impressions on the outside. 

Several nail-incised vessels were found by Ambrosetti (1895 b) on 
the Alto Parana and by Lothrop (1932, pp. 134-135) at Arroyo Malo, 
near Buenos Aires, and at Parana-Guazii. 

Most of the specimens of small ware known up to the present are 
shallow bowls, or bowls with inverted rims. Some painted specimens 
have a characteristic biconical shape with a flat bottom. A few globular 
pots with outflaring rims seem to have been used in cooking. A single 
specimen with a tubular neck has been published by Vellard (1934, fig. 

Some of the funeral urns and wide bowls found by Lothrop at Arroyo 
Malo are covered with a grayish slip and are adorned with red paint on 
the exterior. 

The decoration of the polychrome urns and bowls consists generally of 
red lines on a whitish background, but sometimes white patterns have 
been traced on a red background. Often the red designs are underscored 
by black strokes or bordered by incisions. On a few specimens coarse 
red patterns have been applied directly on the surface of the vessel. The 
motifs are always geometrical. They may be described as sigmoid curves, 
labyrinths, Greek frets, and elaborations of the chevron. A few vessels 
are decorated with plain red bands on a white background. 

Many urns show on their lower portions striations resulting from the 
use of corn husks in the smoothing process. 

Guarani vessels are, as a rule, without handles, though, according to 
Mayntzhusen (1912, p. 465), they may occur in a few instances. Some 
vessels were suspended through holes in the rim or through lateral 

At Arroyo Malo were found some clay "hemispheres," or lumps 
decorated with incised patterns. Lothrop (1932, p. 143) calls them fire 


dogs, that is to say, supports for pots, a hypothesis completely unconfirmed. 
No object of that type has been found in any other Guarani region. 

A fragment of a double vessel found at Arroyo Malo suggests a type 
of bowl used by the Chiriguano, though these modern vessels are obviously 
copied after European yerba mate containers. An effigy vessel collected 
at Arroyo Malo is definitely alien to Guarani culture as known through 

Crude stone drills, knives, hammers, and arrow-shaft polishers are 
listed by Mayntzhusen (1912, p. 463) among the stone objects he picked 
up from refuse heaps on the upper Parana River. He also mentions 
quartz lip plugs. Simple neolithic stone axes without any groove have 
been found in Guarani sites of the upper Parana River, on the island 
of Martin Garcia, and at Arroyo Malo. Lothrop (1932, p. 145) describes 
two fragmentary bolas from Arroyo Malo. One is well made with a 
broad groove ; the other is roughly shaped with a narrow groove. Outes 
(1917, fig. 28) figures also a grooved bola obtained at Martin Garcia. 
The bola was not a Guarani weapon and its use seems to have been limited 
to the Guarani of the Delta. 

Hammerstones, roughly shaped by abrasion and including some pitted 
ones, have come to light in the excavations of Arroyo Malo. 

The bone artifacts which Mayntzhusen claims to have collected on 
ancient sites of the Parana River include needles, weaver daggers, 
spatulae, fishhooks, and flutes. He also discovered perforated shell disks 
and some human or animal teeth which were parts of a necklace. 


No mineral wealth has ever been exploited in Paraguay, but metal 
objects found among the aborigenes of this country in the 16th century 
brought about the conquest of the entire basin of the Rio de la Plata. 
The gold and silver, which members of the Solis expedition obtained 
from the Guarani and other Indians of this region, had come originally 
from the Inca Empire. At the end of the 15th century, probably 
under the reign of Inca Yupanqui, bands of Guarani had crossed the 
Chaco to raid the peaceful Chane along the Inca frontier and even attacked 
tribes directly under Inca rule. Some of these Guarani bands settled in 
the conquered territories; others returned loaded with loot. Groups, 
small and large, followed the first invaders and renewed their assaults 
against the "people of the metal." The number of metal objects which 
reached Paraguay and the Rio de la Plata in this manner must have 
been considerable for, from the beginning of the Conquest, regions which 
actually had nothing to entice the Spaniards were the object of their 
most violent covetousness. These regions became the gateway to 
El Dorado. 

The first positive information on the "Sierra de la Plata" or "Tierra 


rica" was obtained by Alejo Garcia, who, with a few other white men, 
joined a Guarani raid against the Inca border. He wrote of his discovery 
to his companions who had remained in Santa Catarina. When Sebastian 
Cabot landed at Pernambuco in 1526, he had been told of gold and silver 
in the region of the Rio de la Plata. Later, in Santa Catarina he obtained 
more detailed information from Alejo Garcia's companions and heard 
that "near the sierra there was a white king, dressed like a Spaniard," 
and that Garcia and his companions had seen mines and had spoken 
with the Indians who lived near the sierra and "wore silver crowns on 
their heads and gold plates hanging from their necks and ears and at- 
tached around their belts." With his letter, Garcia had sent specimens 
of the metal. Convinced that they had reached El Dorado, Sebastian 
Cabot abandoned his intended journey to the East Indies and decided 
to ascend the Rio de la Plata, where he was assured he could "load a ship 
with gold and silver." Cabot sailed the Parana and then the Paraguay 
River to its junction with the Pilcomayo River. Ramirez, in his famous 
letter recounting the Cabot expedition, says that, "the Guarani Indians 
of the region of Santa Ana wear many ear pendants and pendants of 
gold and silver," and that a brigantine's crew saw the same things some- 
what upstream. Through an interpreter, the Spaniards learned that the 
Chandule, who were Indians of the same tribe living 180 miles (60 
leagues) up the Paraguay River, "traded gold to the Guarani for beads 
and canoes." The Chandule, who were probably the Guarani of the region 
of Itati, had much metal, "according to the Indians, because women and 
children went from their settlements to the mountain and brought back 
the aforesaid metal" (Ramirez in Medina, J. T., 1908, p. 456). 

The Cabot expedition was a failure, but the reports about the Sierra 
de la Plata, the Caracara Indians (i.e., the Quechua Indians of Charcas), 
and the silver and gold of the Guarani were avidly received by the 
Spaniards and led to the expedition of Adelantado Pedro de Mendoza. 
In 1536, Mendoza sent Juan de Ayolas up the Paraguay River to find 
a route to the land of the Caracara. Ayolas ascended the Paraguay River 
to the Port of Candelaria, at lat. 19° S., whence, led by a former slave 
of Garcia, he crossed the Chaco through the land of the Mhayd, and 
reached the Caracara. Like Alejo Garcia, he returned "with 20 loads 
of gold and silver," but, on reaching the Paraguay River, he and his 
companions were massacred by the Payagua Indians (1538). A year 
earlier, Juan de Salazar de Espinosa had founded the city of Asuncion. 
The Cario {Guarani), who understood the aim of the Spaniards and 
who hoped to make them allies in their raids, were extremely friendly 
to the Spaniards, and provided them with food and women. Henceforth, 
the Guarani served as auxiliaries and porters in all Spanish expeditions, 
whether to the Chaco or to the Andes, When Alvar Nunez Cabeza de 
Vaca fought the Mbayd-Guaicuru in 1542, he was assisted by 10,000 


Guarani, who gathered at Tapua. Two thousand Guarani accompanied 
Domingo de Irala in 1548 and even more followed Nufrio de Chaves 
in 1558. 

The Guarani later resisted the ruthless exploitation of which they were 
victims (for example, the revolts of Tabare and Guarambare), but they 
lacked the determination and unity shown by other tribes so that their 
revolts were easily crushed. Later Guarani rebellions were often led by 
native messiahs, the most famous of whom was Obera (end of the 16th 
century), who promised the Indians supernatural support and convinced 
them that the happiness of native times would be restored after the final 
expulsion of the White men. 

From the outset, the conquistadors, like the European colonists on 
the coast of Brazil, were strongly attracted by the beauty of the Guarani 
women — who readily yielded to their solicitations — and took native wives 
or mistresses. As some of these were daughters and sisters of local 
chiefs, the alliances proved useful to the Spaniards, for the Indians felt 
obliged to support and serve their new relatives. The Spaniards lived 
scattered in small ranches around Asuncion, surrounded by harems (some 
with 20 to 30 women), and by their wives' relatives. 

The young colony came to consist of a rapidly growing Mestizo popu- 
lation, without which it would have been abandoned soon after the 
Conquest of Peru. The system of encomiendas, introduced in the middle 
of the 16th century, had the usual dire effects on the native population. 
Forced to work for their masters and often ill-treated, the Indians died 
by the thousands. At the end of the 16th century, there remained 
within a radius of 21 miles (7 leagues) around Asuncion, only 3,000 
Indians. The region of Tapua, north of Asuncion, which had been 
covered with ranches, was practically abandoned. The disappearance 
of the natives, however, was compensated by the constant increase of 
the Mestizos, or "mancebos de la tierra," whose lawlessness is often 
stressed by Spanish chroniclers. These descendants of early Spaniards 
and Guarani form the main element in the million or so people of modern 
Paraguay, so that their language is still spoken in rural Paraguay, in 
the Argentine territory of Misiones, and in the State of Corrientes. Even 
in cities, such as Asuncion, part of the population still uses the language 
of their Guarani ancestors. 

The missions. — Unlike the Guarani under the Spanish encomiendas, 
that portion of the tribe which occupied the upper Parana River and the 
Uruguay River basin was subject to Jesuit missions for about two centuries 
(1608-1767). Their post-Conquest history, therefore, is identical with 
that of the missions. The first Jesuits (Juan Solano, Manuel de Ortega, 
and Tomas Filds) arrived in Asuncion in 1588. Two of these fathers 
went to the region of El Guaira, a territory defined on the west by the 
Parana River, on the north by the Tiete River, on the south by the Iguassu 


River, and in the east by a vague line drawn by the treaty of Tordesillas. 
Here, the Spaniards had founded two cities, Ciudad real del Guaira (1554) 
and Villarica. The two Jesuits visited numerous Indian villages, baptizing 
children and moribunds, but they did not establish any permanent mission. 
In 1609, the King of Spain, at the request of Hernandarias de Saavedra, 
Governor of Paraguay, granted the Jesuits permission to conquer the 
150,000 Guarani Indians of El Guaira, by "means of doctrines and by the 
preaching of the Gospel." 

The first Jesuit mission in Paraguay was San Ignacio Guazu, founded 
north of the Parana River, but the first establishments of El Guaira 
(Nuestra Sefiora de Loreto and San Ignacio-miri on the Pirapo River), 
which were to become so prosperous, were created in 1610 by Fathers Jose 
Cataldino and Simon Maceta. The apostle of the Guaira was the famous 
Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, founder of 11 missions between 1622 and 1629 
and author of the great classic of Guarani language, the "Arte, vocabulario, 
tesoro de la lengua Guarani" (1876). In another book, "Conquista 
espiritual ... del Paraguay" (1892), he reports his adventures and 
successes and the ruin of the missions. In 1630, the flourishing missions of 
El Guaira were destroyed by the raids of slave hunters from Sao Paulo, 
the dreaded mamelucos, who attacked the missions and captured all whom 
they did not slaughter. In a few years, they are said to have killed or 
enslaved 300,000 Guarani Indians. From 1628 to 1630 they took 60,000 
Indians from the Jesuit missions to Sao Paulo. In 1631 Ruiz de Montoya 
evacuated Loreto and San Ignacio, the two last missions to survive in El 
Guaira, and took the people in a heroic anabasis from El Guaira to the 
Parana River. Twelve thousand Indians began this forced migration but 
only 4,000 survived its vicissitudes. 

The northern territory of the Guarani, between the Paraguay, Mbotetey 
(Miranda), and Jejui-guazu Rivers and the Sierra de Amambay, was 
called the Province of Itatin after one of its local Guarani subtribes. The 
Jesuits founded four missions here in 1631, but in 1632 these were all 
destroyed by the mamelucos from Sao Paulo. Later, two new missions 
were founded in the same area. 

The same year the Jesuits entered the mountainous region in the Bra- 
zilian State of Rio Grande do Sul, which forms the divide between the 
basins of the Uruguay and the Jacui Rivers. This was formerly called 
Tape, but today only a branch of the mountain system is known as Sierra 
de los Tapes ; the remainder is known as Sierra de San Martin and Cuchilla 
Grande. From 1632 to 1635, the Jesuits founded 10 "reducciones" here. 
The renewed assaults of the mamelucos in 1638 forced the Jesuits to 
evacuate the missions of Tape, a region that was forever lost to Portugal. 
After these last inroads, the Guarani Indians received guns and, on two 
occasions — at Caazapa-guazii and at Mborore (1639 and 1640) — ^they 
defeated the mamelucos. From 1687 to 1707, eight new missions were 


founded which, together with the others, formed the 30 cities of the so- 
called "Paraguayan State of the Jesuits." 

The Jesuit expansion was resisted by certain Guarani shamans, chiefs, 
and especially messiahs, who seem to have been very numerous in this 
period of hardship and misery. Meanwhile, the Jesuits were persecuted by 
the encomenderos, who could not tolerate the loss of so many Indians to 
the missionaries. The southern missions of Yapeyu and La Cruz were 
often molested by the incursions of the Yard, Mbohane, Minuane, and 
Charrua Indians. Several expeditions of Guarani were led by Spanish 
officers against these wild tribes. 

The first blow to the Jesuits was the treaty of 1750 between Spain and 
Portugal, by which Philip VI yielded to Portugal seven Jesuit missions 
on the eastern side of the Uruguay River (San Borja, San Nicolas, San 
Luis, San Lorenzo, Santo Angel, San Miguel, and San Juan) in exchange 
for the colony of Sacramento. The Indians refused to abandon their 
villages and resisted by arms the forced expulsion. Both Spain and 
Portugal had to send armies, which defeated the Indians in 1756. Three 
years later, the Tratado de Limites was abrogated and the seven towns were 
returned to the Jesuits, but in the meantime they had been partially 
destroyed and the Indian population, estimated at 30,000 a few years 
before, had considerably decreased. 

The year 1767, when all Jesuits were expelled from South America, is 
a fateful date in the history of the South American Indians. The Indians 
who had been under Jesuit rule dwindled or disappeared altogether. 
Tribes left their missions to return to the bush ; Indians in Jesuit colonies 
reverted to barbarism and regions previously explored again became geo- 
graphical blanks on the map. 

The new charter which Don Francisco de Paula Bucareli y Ursua 
drafted for the missions after the expulsion of the Jesuits differed from 
the previous system only in minor points. The so-called communistic 
feature of the Jesuit regime and the restrictions on commerce were main- 
tained, but none of the more progressive aspects of the plan, such as the 
foundation of a University, were ever applied. Control of the missions 
was given to Franciscans, assisted by lay administrators. The results 
were baleful. The missions were invaded by colonists who robbed the 
Indians of their lands and destroyed the cattle and mate plantations. 
The fields were abandoned and the handicrafts forgotten through lack of 
teachers. The Indians were forced to work for the Whites and were 
victimized by the local authorities. Many continued to live on their 
plantations but others returned to the forests. Those who remained in 
the missions were completely demoralized by alcoholism and the bad 
example of the colonists. The wars of independence and the later national 
wars completed the decadence and the ruin of the missions. In 1801 the 
seven towns in Uruguay were given back to Portugal; in 1817 the 


dictator, Francia, ordered the destruction of the five missions south of 
the Parana River. The 15 missions between the Parana and Uruguay 
Rivers were abandoned during the war of 1816-18. The Guarani who 
were not slaughtered settled in small villages, often near the ancient 
missions. In 1848 the dictator of Paraguay, Carlos Antonio Lopez, 
suppressed Bucareli's regime and forced the 6,000 Guarani who still 
occupied missions to live in ordinary villages like the remainder of the 
Paraguayan population. The last vestiges of the Jesuit system disappeared 
after that date. 

The Jesuit missions of Paraguay have been the subject of considerable 
controversy concerning their alleged communistic organization. 



The early Guarani seem to have been proficient horticulturists, perhaps 
superior to their modern descendants, the Caingud, who are said to be 
unable to subsist entirely on the output of their small fields. Like the 
Tupinamha, the Guarani supplemented their diet with all kinds of wild 
fruits, and with game and fish. 

Fanning. — The whole community, among both ancient and modern 
Guarani, cooperated in clearing a large field by the slash-and-burn method 
in a thick forest and then subdivided it into family plots. Planting and 
sowing were regulated by the course of the Pleiades. The main agricul- 
tural tool was the digging stick. After five or six years of cultivation 
fields were considered exhausted and were abandoned. 

Most plants typical of the Tropics, excepi cayenne pepper, were raised 
by the Guarani and are still grown by their descendants, the Caingud and 
the Paraguayan Mestizos. Manioc, mainly the sweet species, and maize 
are the staples. The Caingud cultivate manioc, maize (5 varieties), sev- 
eral varieties of sweet potatoes, beans, mangara (Xanthosoma sp.), a tuber 
called carahu (Dioscorea sp.), a leguminosea called mbacucu, peanuts, 
pumpkins, bananas, papayas, and watermelons. They also grow an herb 
(Nissolia sp.) for curing serpent bites, and two shrubs (Rhamanidium 
sp., and Coix lacryma-jobi), the seeds of which serve as beads. The Pan' 
and Chiripd raise tacuapi reeds, or cana de Castilla (Arundo donax), for 
their arrow shafts. The Caingud are very fond of sugarcane, which is 
for them a delicacy. 

Gathering wild foods. — The Guarani of the southern Brazilian plateau 
consumed great quantities of pine nuts (Araucaria brasiliensis) , which 
are abundant in that region. 

The modern Caingud subsist far more than did their ancestors on wild 
plants, especially pindo palms (Cocos romanzoffiana) . This tree not 
only Drovides them leaves for making baskets, but also with vitamin-rich 
terminal shoots, with juicy fruits, oily nuts, and pith which the Indians 


eat in times of want. They also gather the fruits of other palms, such as 
Acrocomia mokayayba, A. total, Cocos yatay, Attalea, and of several trees 
and other plants, including Carica, Annona, araza, ihwa-imbe {Philoden- 
dron bipinnatifidum) , mburucudya (Passiflora edulis), wild oranges, etc. 

The Caingud relish honey, which is for them an important food resource. 
The Apapocuva have taken the first steps toward domesticating bees. 
When they gather honey, they spare several combs so that the bees can 
return to the same place another time. They also acclimatize swarms of 
bees to their villages. The fat of butterfly larvae (Phalaenidae and 
Morphidae) and of beetles (tambu, Calandra palmarum^) is part of 
Caingud diet. They fell some trees for the purpose of developing the 
larvae in the decayed wood. 

Hunting. — Because the Caingud prefer meat to any other food, their 
main concern when they move their village is to choose an area with 
abundant game. They make great use of traps. These are of two types : 
dead falls, which crush the game ; and spring snares with automatic 
release, for birds and even for large quadrupeds, like tapir or deer. Traps 
and pitfalls are often located at places where animals enter fenced fields. 
The Caingud capture parrots in a noose at the end of a pole. They have 
dogs trained for hunting, especially for jaguars. 

Lower jaws of jaguars are kept as trophies suspended in front of huts. 

Fishing. — Fishing is of secondary importance. It is reported that the 
ancient Guarani angled with wooden hooks; those living on the Coast 
used tucuma fiber nets. Although modern Guarani are well provided 
with iron hooks, they still shoot fish with bows and arrows, force them 
into baskets placed in the openings of stone dams, or poison them in calm 
water with the juice of a Sapindaceae (Vogt, 1904, p. 204). 

Domesticated animals. — The only domesticated animal in pre-Colum- 
bian times was the Muscovy duck. Today they have dogs, chickens, and 
many other European farm animals. 

Cooking. — The food of the rural population of Paraguay is largely a 
heritage of the ancient Guarani. The most popular dishes prepared with 
maize are chipas — cakes made of maize flour — mbai puy, maize mush, 
abati pororo, boiled maize, and guaimi atucupe — maize dough wrapped in 
leaves and cooked under the ashes. The Caingud have about 12 recipes 
for preparing maize. Maize flour baked in a green bamboo joint is 
a Caingud specialty. 

Manioc tubers are generally boiled or roasted. They are also sliced, 
dried in the sun, and pounded into a flour with which the Caingud make 
wafers. Flour for wafers is also prepared by the Caingud with tubers 
soaked in water or mud for 8 days, and then dried in the sun and ground. 
Manioc starch is also extracted by grating the tubers — today on a tin 
grater — and washing the mass in water. 

* Rhynchoplwrus sp., according to Strelnichov. 


They crush the pith of the palms in a mortar, strain it through a sieve, 
and dry it in the sun. 

Meat is more often broiled on a spit than on a babracot. Broiled fish 
and game are sometimes ground into powder (piracui). 

Caingud do not use salt. Instead they season their food with the ashes 
of a tree {Machaerium angustifolium) . 

Wooden mortars are generally made of a long log hollowed at one 
end, but some have the grinding pit on the side. Flour is strained through 
beautifully plaited sieves, identical to those of Guiana, although Paraguay 
is the southernmost limit of their distribution. When the Caingud have 
no pottery at hand, they boil food in green bamboo joints. They serve 
food in wooden dishes or in calabashes of various sizes and shapes. 


A typical Guarani village consisted of four to eight large rectangular 
houses — some about 50 m. (165 ft.) long — grouped around a square 
plaza. Each house had a vaulted or gabled roof which rose from the 
ground and was supported on a ridge pole that rested on a row of posts 
dividing off the quarters of each individual family. The roof was thatched 
with grass, palm leaves and, in certain regions of the coast, with pieces 
of bark. There was a door on each side of the house. Villages were forti- 
fied with a double or triple stockade and a series of moats, bristling with 
half-buried spears. 

The vaulted hut has survived only among the Pan'. Other Caingud 
now build either a gable roof resting on the ground and thatched with 
tacuapi grass, or palm leaves, or a gabled house with vertical wattle-and- 
daub walls (4 to 6 m., or 13 to 20 ft., long; 3 to 4 m., or 10 to 13 ft., 
wide). Grass thatching is sewn to the structure with large wooden 
needles. Of all the modern Guarani only some Caingud of Brazil still 
lived in communal houses 50 years ago. These houses were 25 to 50 
feet (7.5 to 15 m.) long and were grouped in villages surrounded by a 
thorn hedge or a palisade. 

Household furniture. — The aboriginal cotton or palm-fiber hammock 
is now being supplanted by the platform bed or sleeping mat. Four- 
legged benches, which are often carved out of a single log in animal 
shapes, are still fairly common. Utensils and foods are stored on shelves 
suspended from the roof or are hung on wooden hooks or on bent deer feet. 


Clothing. — Most of the Guarani went entirely naked, although in cer- 
tain regions, it seems, women wore either a loincloth or a cotton dress 
(the tipoy), a sacklike garment covering the body from the breasts to 
the knees which was eventually adopted universally through missionary 


influence. The southernmost Guarani, who lived in a harsh climate, 
followed the example of the Charrua and wore skin cloaks. In some 
Caingud groups, men wear a loincloth (hence the name Chiripd) ; in 
others they pass a piece of cloth between the legs and tuck it under a 
belt of human hair or fibers (hence the name, Baticola, "crupper"). 
Today cotton ponchos are sometimes worn by men. 

Ornaments. — The distinctive lip ornament of ancient and modern 
Guarani is a long T-shaped stick made of jatahy rosin; labrets of 
stone or bone were exceptional.^^ Women hang triangular shell pendants 
from their ears. In the 16th century, men wore huge shell-disk 
necklaces, which have often been discovered in archeological sites. A 
few privileged individuals suspended on their chest pendants of silver 
or copper plates which had reached Paraguay from Peru. 

At ceremonies, modern Caingud men wear feather wreaths, cotton 
sashes fringed with feathers, or seed necklaces with feather tassels. Pairs 
of these necklaces are crossed over the chest. Children's and women's 
necklaces are strung with pyramidal wooden beads, wooden or bone 
pendants carved into human or animal forms, seeds, small gourds, fish 
vertebrae, pendants made of toucan skin, and other objects. 

Feather cloaks, formerly worn by famous chiefs, are no longer seen, 
but feather bracelets and diadems are still used by shamans or participants 
in religious ceremonies. On some headdresses, feathers were mounted 
on a woven frontlet, a technique suggesting Andean influence. Feather 
garlands were sometimes tied on top of the head in the form of rudi- 
mentary bonnets. The Mbyd wear bracelets, garters, and anklets of 
human hair. Belts of hair are worn only by men. Finger rings of 
palm fruits or iguana tails seem now to have become fashionable. 

The circular tonsure of the ancient Guarani, still used by some Caingud 
groups, did not extend to the forehead, as among the Tupinamha, but 
was similar to that of Franciscan monks. 

Painting. — ^The use of urucii for body paint is widespread, but that of 
genipa seems to be limited to the Brazilian Caingud. Other groups sub- 
stitute for it the juices of several plants or a mixture of charcoal and 
honey or wax. Traditional facial designs are dots and stripes, some- 
times applied with bamboo stamps. 

The ancient Itatin rubbed ashes from bones of birds of prey or swift 
animals into cuts made in their skin to improve their dexterity in archery. 


Boats. — The ancient literature rarely mentions dugout canoes though 
they must have been common on the Paraguay and Parana Rivers. The 
Paraguayan Caingud live on streams that are unsuited to boats and con- 
sequently make only a few dugouts or bamboo rafts, mainly for crossing 

*' Today labrets have fallen into disuse. 


rivers. They propel these craft with poles. The Cayud of Brazil, who 
reside near larger streams, are good boatmen and travel a great deal in 
large dugouts, 8 to 12 feet (2.5 to 3.5 m.) long. 

Carrying devices. — Goods are carried in cylindrical or rectangular 
twilled baskets, reinforced with a wooden frame. Pan' carrying baskets 
are relatively extensible and are made of intertwined pindo leaves, the 
midribs strengthening the whole structure. Carrying nets made of bark 
strips were clearly introduced with the mate industry. The Guarani skin 
bag is certainly older than the net and appears to be an article that origin- 
ated locally or was borrowed from tribes to the south. 

Babies are ordinarily carried in a sling, straddling their mothers' hips, 
but they may be transported in baskets or in skin bags. 


Basketry. — The Guarani weave temporary baskets of the pinnae of 
pindo palms, the midrib serving to reinforce the rim. More permanent 
containers are made of twilled fabrics of tacuarembo strands. They are 
ornamented with black, geometrical motifs. 

Spinning and weaving. — Thread is made of cotton carded with a bow, 
or of Bromelia, nettle ( Urera grandifolia) , and palm (Acrocomia total) 

Cotton is spun with a drop spindle and woven on a vertical loom with a 
circular warp. Cloth is generally white with alternate brown and black 
stripes, dyed with the bark of Peltophorum duhium and Trichilia catigua. 
The technique of darning weft strands through warp elements attached to 
a vertical loom, though it has been observed in modem times, was probably 
an early practice abandoned when true weaving became general, probably 
through Arawak influence. 

Pottery. — Guarani ceramics are known through archeological finds in 
Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, near Asuncion in the Argentine territory of 
Misiones, and on the island of Martin Garcia. The largest specimens are 
funeral urns, which also served as beer containers. Small dishes and bowls 
have a white interior slip which bears sigmoid figures, curves, triangles, 
mazes, and "grecques." The large jars and ordinary ware have continuous 
rows of thumbnail or other impressions over their entire surface. The 
Caingua, who have practically given up pottery, make only a ware that is 
decadent in quality and shape. Bowls with a flaring base ("compotera" 
types) may perhaps be a survival of a pre-Columbian type. 

Leather work. — The Caingua carry their small possessions in skin 

Weapons. — Caingua bows are made of palm wood, guayaihwi (Pata- 
gonula americana), or ihvira payu, ihvira pepe {Holocalyx halansae). 
They are 6 to 8 feet (2 to 2.5 m.) long, circular or oval in cross section, 
and entirely or partially wrapped with guembe bark {Philodendron sp.) 


or covered with a basketry sheath in the center. A small bulge at each 
end made of wrapped bark strips prevents the fiber bowstring from 
slipping. Archers wear wrist guards of human hair or of cotton (Chiripd) . 
The main types of arrowheads found in the tropical area are used by the 
Caingud: Lanceolate taquara heads; tapering sticks, plain or barbed on 
one or both sides ; and conical wooden plugs for stunning birds. 

The war arrows of the ancient Guarani were often tipped with human 

The arrow shafts are made either of the native tacuati reed (Merosta- 
chys argyronema) or more commonly of the imported tacuapi, or cafia 
de Castilla (Arundo donax). 

The feathering is of the Eastern Brazilian, or arched type. The pellet- 
bow is widely used by young Caingud boys to shoot birds or small rodents. ^ 
The missiles are small clay pellets. 

Caingud clubs are either swordlike with cutting edges or plain sticks 
with a square cross section and a basketry sheath around the handle. 
Sometimes they taper into a point. The Guarani were acquainted with the 
sling but found little use for it in their forested habitat. 

The Guarani warriors whom the Spaniards fought in the 16th century 
carried shields, often decorated with feathers. This defensive weapon 
has not been reported since the 17th century. 


Among the ancient Guarani, the social unit was probably the large 
extended patrilineal family — perhaps the sib. Sometimes as many as 60 
families lived under the same roof. Each community had a chief, but the 
actual power was often in the hands of a shaman. Ma,ny of the great 
Guara7ii leaders who resisted the Spaniards in the 17th century were 
shamans endowed with divine prestige. Some ancient chiefs extended 
their influence over a fairly wide area. A general council of chiefs and 
adult men decided community and district affairs and elected war chiefs 
who commanded obedience during expeditions. 

All Apapocuva-Guarani chiefs, for at least a hundred years, have been 
shamans who have reached the highest rank within their profession. Like 
the ancient chiefs, they have been credited with supernatural power and 
with miracles performed on behalf of their people. 

A Guarani chief was succeeded by his eldest son unless there was some 
stronger member of the family. However, an eloquent man distinguished 
in warfare might become chief. Persons dissatisfied with their headman 
might secede and start a new settlement under another leader. Chiefs of 
Caingud communities in Paraguay have a Spanish title and carry a stick 
as symbol of their ofiice. Fifty years ago, a few villages were administered 
as in Jesuit times, by a cacique mayor and cacique menor, a sargento, and 

* For a good description of the Guarani pellet-bow, see Azara, 1809, 2:67. 


a cabo (Vogt, 1904, p. 203). Today the number of Indians under the 
authority of a chief vary from 20 to about 100. 

The members of the ancient Guarani communities built the houses of 
their chiefs and tilled their fields and harvested their crops (Ruiz de 
Montoya, 1892, p. 49). 

Law and order. — It is only about modern Caingud communities that 
there is some information on justice and law. Thieves are detected by 
shamans, who touch each suspected man on the chest near the heart. If 
the fingers leave a red mark, the man is guilty. A stolen wife must be 
returned with a present. In case of murder, if the criminal's relatives do 
not pay the wergild to prevent a feud, the offended family takes the 
punishment into its own hands. 

Etiquette. — Among ancient Guarani, when a guest entered a hut, he 
was surrounded by women who wailed and enumerated the deeds of his 
dead relatives. The guest covered his face with his hands and shed a 
few tears. The amount of crying and wailing was proportionate to the 
importance of the visitor (Ruiz de Montoya, 1892, p. 52). 


Birth and naming. — Even in modern days, a pregnant woman must 
avoid any food that might make her child abnormal. After childbirth, 
the father lies in his hammock until the infant's navel cord falls off, re- 
fraining from activities thought harmful to the baby. The Apapocuva 
believe that babies are reincarnated dead people, hence one of the shaman's 
first tasks is to identify the returning spirit and, by means of his super- 
natural power, to obtain a magic substance to be rubbed into the child's 
body. Infant baptism, though Catholic in many respects, is permeated 
by ancient rites and beliefs. Names refer to mythical beings or to sacred 
objects associated with the place on the horizon from which the soul is 
supposed to have come. Children may be very closely identified with 
the deities of the Upper World, and those from the west, the abode of 
Tupa, may receive a miniature of the bench symbolic of their divine name- 
sake. In case of danger, especially if a person is sick, his name is changed 
and a new ceremony of baptism is performed (Nimuendaju, 1914 a, pp. 

Boys* initiation. — A Caingud boy undergoes something of an initiation 
rite when, prior to puberty, his lower lip is perforated for the insertion of 
a labret. After a group of boys has been somewhat anesthetized with beer, 
a specialist perforates each boy's lower lip with a wooden or deer-hom 
awl and prays to Tupa that the labret may protect its wearer against death. 
For the three following days the initiates eat only maize mush. After 
their initiation they drop the infantile "u, u" (yes) for the adult mascu- 
line "ta." 


Girls* puberty. — Among ancient Guarani, at her first menstruation, a 
girl was sewn in her hammock and remained there for 2 or 3 days. Her 
hair was cut short and, until it grew to its former length, she had to 
forego meat and to work hard under the supervision of an older woman. 
For modern Caingud also, coming of age is a critical period which calls 
for many ritual observances ; the girl is secluded for 3 weeks behind 
a screen in a corner of the house and eats only a few foods, which must be 
lukewarm. She must not talk, laugh, lift her eyes from the ground, 
scratch herself, or blow on the fire. She must also listen to advice con- 
cerning her future life as a wife and a mother. Before she resumes normal 
activities, a shaman washes her with a special decoction. 

Marriage. — There is little information on marriage in ancient times. 
Girls were married soon after puberty. Child betrothal is reported among 
the Guarani of the Parana River. In some cases little girls were given to 
grown men, who lived with their child wives, probably in the house of their 
future parents-in-law. 

Child betrothal is reported among modern Caingud, but the girls re- 
main with their parents, who receive presents from their prospective 
sons-in-law. The preferred form of marriage seems to have been between 
cross-cousins and between a maternal uncle and his niece. Union with a 
mother and her daughter and sororal polygyny can be inferred from allu- 
sions in the Jesuitic literature. Only chiefs and influential shamans seem 
to have been able to support several wives. Some powerful caciques are 
said to have had from 15 to 30 wives. The levirate is stated by Ruiz de 
Montoya (1892, p. 49) to have been observed by chiefs. Today residence 
is patrilocal. 

Deatti. — So strong is the hope for reincarnation that a dying Apapocuva 
(Nimuendaju, 1914 a, p. 307) accepts death with great fortitude. He 
sings medicine songs while women wail and the shamans chant, shaking 
their rattles in farewell to the departing soul. 

Among the ancient Guarani, as soon as a man had breathed his last, 
his wives and female relatives gave the most violent demonstrations of 
grief, often injuring themselves by flinging themselves to the ground 
from some elevation (Ruiz de Montoya, 1892, p. 52). 

The ancient Guarani put their dead into large chicha jars and covered 
them with a bowl. These funeral urns were buried up to the neck (Ruiz 
de Montoya, 1892, p. 52).* Modem Caingud bury their dead directly in 
the ground with arms and legs flexed against the body or lay them with 
their possessions in a wooden trough or hollowed tree trunk. 

Both ancient and some modern Guarani bury their dead in the hut, 
which is immediately abandoned. The Caingud of Paraguay inter the 

* Ruiz de Montoya, 1892, p. 52: " , . , muchos enterraban sus muertos en Unas grandes 
tinajas, poniendo un plate en la boca para que en aquella concavidad estuviese mas acomodada el 
alma aunque estas tinajas las enterraban hasta el cuello." 


corpse in the bush and build a miniature hut on the grave. They burn 
the dead man's house and sometimes the whole settlement. For a short 
time they bring food to the grave and keep a fire burning upon it. Sec- 
ondary interment is reported for the Mbyd chiefs. A dead person's name 
is taboo. 

As among the Tupinamba, visitors and members of the community 
were received with tears and expressions of sorrow. These manifesta- 
tions of grief took place probably only if somebody in the village had 
died. (See Etiquette, p. 86.) 

According to the Apapocuva, after death a soul first attempts to reach 
the Land-Without-Evil where "Our Mother" resides, but even if it 
passes the demon Anay unscathed, other souls may detain it until its 
reincarnation. Those who have suffered a violent death or leave behind 
a beloved person or have been frustrated and are reluctant to go to the 
hereafter, are likely to haunt the familiar places of life until they are 
expelled or are reincarnated in a newborn baby. Children's souls are 
the only ones that can easily reach the Land- Without-Evil (Nimuendaju, 
1914 a). 


Cannibalism, although never attributed to modern Caingua, was an 
honored practice among the ancient Guarani. Its ritual seems to have 
been the same as among the Tupinamba (p. 119). The prisoner was well 
treated and was given a wife ; but finally, after many months and even 
many years of captivity, he was ceremonially sacrificed on the village 
plaza. Like the Tupinamba, the Guarani prisoner pelted his tormentors 
with stones and boasted of his great deeds and of those of his people. 
Children were urged to crush the victim's skull with small copper axes 
and to dip their hands in his blood, while they were reminded of their 
duties as future warriors. According to Ruiz de Montoya (1892, p. 51), 
everyone who touched the corpse with his hand or with a stick and every- 
one who ate a morsel of it assumed a new name. 


Art. — Decorative art among the Caingua is limited to the simple geo- 
metrical patterns of basketry work, and to the motifs painted on pottery, 
incised or burned on gourds. Lozenges are one of the favorite designs; 
anthropomorphic or zoomorphic themes are exceptional. 

Games and toys. — Small children show certain skill at modeling men 
or animals of wax, clay, or palm leaves. Their favorite recreations are 
wrestling, racing, hide-and-seek, tug-of-war, shooting, and dancing. The 
toys mentioned by our sources are noise-producing tops and buzzing disks. 

The ancient Itatin, i.e., the Guarani north of the Apa River, played 


games with rubber balls. These liall games were still popular in some 
Jesuit missions until the 18th century. 

Today the Caingud play with a maize-leaf shuttlecock, which they 
throw at each other and try to keep in the air as long as possible. 

Musical instruments. — Among the ancient Guarani and among their 
modern descendants, the gourd rattle and the stamping tube are the 
most sacred religious instruments. In the Apapocuva-Guarani tribe, 
rattles are handled only by men. Their "voice," i.e., their sound, is be- 
lieved to be endowed with sacred power. Shamans are capable of shaking 
rattles according the most varied rhythmic patterns. The stamping tube 
is a bamboo section closed at one end, trimmed with feathers, and engraved 
with checkerboard designs. It is an instrument reserved to women who 
pound it against the ground to produce a dull thud which marks the 
cadence of their dances. 

The flutes of the ancient Guarani were often made of the long bones 
of their slain enemies. There is no information in our sources about 
their other musical instruments. 

There are few types of musical instruments among modern Caingud. 
The Pan' and Chiripa have musical bows which they play either with 
their fingers or with a fiddle bow. The transverse flute with six stops 
and a blowhole was adopted by Mhya men in post-Colum,bian times. A 
curious type of panpipe used only by women has been reported among 
modern Caingud. It consists of five bamboo tubes of different sizes which 
are not bound together, but are simply held with both hands. Spanish 
drums and guitars are now supplanting native musical instruments. 

Narcotics. — Yerba mate, or "Paraguay tea," though now characteristic 
of Paraguay and used daily by the Guarani, who sip it through a reed 
from a small gourd, is scarcely mentioned in the old literature. The 
aboriginal Guarani seem to have regarded it as a magic herb taken only 
by shamans. Modern Caingud collect mate in the forest and prepare it 
in their villages, drying the leaves for a whole night on a platform over 
a fire. 

Tobacco was smoked in the form of cigars or in pipes. Clay pipes 
have been found archeologically, and the Caingud still used them not 
long ago. Like some Chiriguano pipes, those of the Caingud had their 
bowls ornamented with a sort of crest. 

Like the Tupinamba and other Brazilian tribes, the Guarani celebrated 
all the main events of life with drinking bouts : The return of a successful 
hunting or fishing expedition, harvest, and the execution of a prisoner. 
Their favorite beverage (kaguiai) was prepared mainly with maize but 
also with sweet potatoes and more rarely with manioc. Fermentation was 
activated by the addition of chewed corn or leaves of caa-tory {Physurus 
sp.). Modern Caingud prepare mead, which may be quite strong. 



The great personages of Apapocuva-Guarani mythology deserve the 
title of gods though they remain aloof from the affairs of this world. 
Creators and Transformers, they continue to exist and men yearn to live 
in their company. Some day they will destroy the world which they have 
created and shaped. The most majestic deity is the Creator, HanderuvuQU, 
Our Great Father, who now resides in a dark region which he lights with 
the glimmer of his chest. His wife, who was also the first woman, Ran- 
de^y, Our Mother, has her abode in the west in the Land-Without-Evil. 
According to Vellard (1939 a, p. 169), the main deity of the Mbyd is 
Namandu who lives in the east and gives life to the world. Tupa is the 
deity of the west. The north belongs to Yahira, the god of vengeance and 
death. Vellard (1939 a, p. 171) quotes prayers to Ramandu in which he 
is asked for game or for good health, but there is no evidence of a cult 
of the Creator among the Apapocuva. 

The Pan' and Mbyd, who in the past have certainly been subject to 
Jesuit influences, recognize Tupa as the Creator and High God. Among 
the Apapocuva, whose ancient traditions seem unimpaired, Tupa, son of 
Nande^y, is a secondary nature deity, the personification of the thunder. 
He is a short man, with woolly hair, who causes a storm every time he 
crosses the skies in his wooden trough in the company of Thunder Birds. 
The original nature of this secondary god, promoted to an exalted position 
among acculturated Guarani, is still present in the memory of his worship- 
pers, who refer to him as "The Great Thunder," "The Great Noise," or 
"Master of Thunder." Under him, minor Tupa are respectively lords of 
the rain, hailstorm, lig'hting, and thunder (Pan'). A stock of traditional 
prayers which these Indians address to their God whenever in need of 
help betrays Christian influences. 

Certain rites observed by the Apapocuva and even by the ancient Guarani 
can be interpreted only as worship of the sun, whom the Apapocuva call 
"Our Father." Sun is given as the Son of Our Great Father or of Tupa. 

Animism. — ^According to the Apapocuva, two souls coexist in every 
man. One, called ayvucue, comes from the mansion of some deity in the 
west, zenith, or east, and enters the body immediately after birth. This 
soul is identified with a peaceful disposition, gentleness, and a craving for 
vegetables ; but the temperament of a person is conditioned by the animal 
soul (acyigua), which he harbors in the nape of his neck. Patient and 
friendly people may have a butterfly soul ; whereas a jaguar soul makes a 
man cruel and brutal. Unrest, violence, malice, and lust for meat are 
generally ascribed to the acyigua. 

Dreams are experiences of the soul and are paid great attention, 
especially by shamans, who derive their supernatural knowledge and power 
from them. 


Plate 11. — Fingernail-marked Guarani ware. Top: Sherds from Martin 
Garcia, Argentina. Center: Vessels from Arroyo Malo, Parand Delta. Bottom: 
Vessels from Paraguay. Funerary urn at left. {Top, after Bruzzone, 1931; 
center, after Lothrop, 1932; bottom, courtesy Max Schmidt.) 


Plate 12. — Guarani and other pottery from Paraguay, a, b, Painted; c, plain; 
d, e, probably Mbayd-Guana incised ware. (Courtesy Max Schmidt.) 


After death the two souls separate ; the ayvucue generally tries to reach 
the Land-Without-Evil, but may linger dangerously near his former 
home. The animal soul, too, is likely to turn into a fearful ghost. To 
drive the ayvucue away, the shamans organize a dance in which two 
opposite groups of dancers, by running to and fro and passing each other 
at full speed, so confuse the soul that it is lost in a maze. The shaman 
then is able to deliver it to Tupa, who takes it to the Land of the Dead. 
The animal soul has to be attacked with weapons and exterminated like 
a dangerous animal (Nimuendaju, 1914 a, p. 305) . 

The Caingud feel themselves surrounded by spirits or demons, who 
appear in human or animal forms. They are the masters or the protectors 
of animals, plants, trees, water places, and winds. These genii, if oflfended, 
can be harmful. 

Ceremonials. — Among the Apapocuva-Guarani, any trouble, any anx- 
iety felt by the community or the shaman, or even the prospect of a collec- 
tive enterprise stimulates a ceremonial dance. The performers stand in a 
line, the women on one end, jumping up and down on the same spot and 
pounding their stamping tubes; the men on the other end, shaking their 
rattles, slightly stooping, knees bent, throwing their feet forward and 
backward in a rapid tempo. The shaman faces the dancers and walks, 
runs, or bounces in front of them brandishing his rattle. Each woman in 
turn performs a solo dance in front of the line of the men, and sometimes 
she may invite a man to dance opposite her (Nimuendaju, 1914 a, p. 347). 

Great emphasis is placed on orientation; the dancers always face the 
east and, when the entire line revolves, it invariably moves north, west, 
and south, describing a perfect ellipse. Dancers often hold ceremonial 
clubs, trimmed with basketry sheaths. The shaman carries a ritual stick. 
Dances take place in special fence-enclosed huts, which open toward the 
east and serve as storehouses for the ritual paraphernalia. 

The most important Apapocuva ceremony is celebrated by the whole 
tribe just before harvest. Cultivated plants, wild fruits, and game are 
exhibited near candles and, after 4 days of ritual dancing, are sprinkled 
with holy water. The assistants at the ritual are also baptized on the same 
occasion. The object of the festivities, which are characterized by a spirit 
of harmony and pleasant cheerfulness, is to guard men and food from evil 
influences. The Caingud offer cakes made with the first ripe maize to 


No amount of training can make an Apapocuva-Guarani a shaman if he 
has not been supernaturally inspired with magic chants. To every adult 
male or female sooner or later a dead relative reveals a chant, which the 
recipient eagerly teaches to the rest of the community. Its possession 
confers a certain immunity against accidents. A shaman is a man who 



owns a great many magic chants, which he uses for the common good of 
his people. He must also be capable of leading a ceremonial dance, of 
playing the rattle gourd in the different modes, and of performing the 
rites befitting certain circumstances. The main test of his skill is offered 
by the harvest dance, which can be successfully organized only by full- 
fledged shamans. By his "voltes" and jumps, the shaman endeavors to 
make his body "light." He must also have frequent dreams, because they 
give him superior knowledge and insight into the future. 

The ancient Guarani and even many modern groups assign disease to 
the intrusion of an object into the body. The Apapocuva visualize the 
source of the illness as an invisible substance that the shaman sees after 
he has chanted for several hours. The treatment's aim is to extract that 
substance and to endow the patient with magic power. 

Legends and historical traditions both attest the extraordinary prestige 
enjoyed by some shamans of old who were leaders of their tribes. After 
receiving their inspiration, these great men retired into the wilderness, 
where they lived on celestial food. By constant dancing some Apapocuva- 
Guarani shamans gradually subjugated their animal soul, strengthening 
their ayvucue, or peaceful soul, until they could fly toward the heavenly 
Land- Without-Evil. 

Among ancient Guarani great medicine men worked miracles by their 
chants. With their saliva they caused death. They were strong enough 
to drag a whole tribe across a large river. They claimed absolute control 
of all natural phenomena, including stars. After their death, their bones, 
kept as relics in luxurious hammocks hung in special huts, were worshiped 
and consulted as oracles. Ordinary shamans added to their prestige by 
sleight of hand. 

Shamans are not only responsible for the religious life, but also inter- 
fere in the administration of justice. Whenever a succession of misfor- 
tunes is imputed to witchcraft, the shaman unmasks the sorcerer, who is 
savagely killed. The shamans' political power derives, naturally, from 
their prestige and from the fear which they inspire. Usually, witchcraft 
is blamed on a neighboring tribe. Sorcerers kill their victims by practic- 
ing witchcraft on their exuviae. 


The high-sounding names of the main characters in the Apapocuva- 
Guarani mythology tinge it with a solemnity quite foreign to the versions 
of the same motifs collected elsewhere. 

The story of the creation is told in impressive terms. At the beginning 
there was darkness, and the Eternal Bats fought in the night. Our Great 
Father found himself and created the earth, which he propped on the 
Eternal Cross. With him was a companion, Our-Father-Who-Knows- 
Everything, Our Great Father made a woman. Our Mother, whom he 


generously shared with his subordinate. Our Mother conceived the 
Twins, Our Elder Brother, and Our Younger Brother, the former by the 
Creator and the latter, who was weak and stupid, by the Creator's com- 
panion. From that point the Apapocuva version follows more or less 
the Tupinamha sequence of motifs. The mother is killed by the Jaguars, 
on which the Twins later take their revenge. Our Great Father's Son 
manifests his superiority by always taking the initiative in any adventure 
and by repairing the blunders of his younger brother. The Twins are 
secondary culture heroes who complete the work of the Creator. Our 
Elder Brother steals fire from the vultures on behalf of mankind and 
teaches the medicine dances to the Anan, who in turn train the men. Our 
Elder Brother still resides in the zenith taking care of mankind in a very 
indefinite way. He will participate in the final destruction of the world 
by removing one of the props on which it lies. 

In a Pah' myth, fire is acquired by the Celestial Rhea. 

The Anan demons, who are the constant victims of the practical jokes 
played by the Twins, are purely folkloric characters, with the exception of 
a single Anan who devours the souls of the dead when they pass by his 

The Are have a myth about a flood (Borba, 1904, pp. 61-64) from 
which a single man escaped by climbing on top of a palm tree. The sapa- 
curu birds created land again by dropping piles of earth into the water. 
The man was taken on a raft to a place where many women were bathing. 
He took a woman for himself, and their descendants are the Are. 

Cosmology. — The Sun, as a deity, is called Our Father and is distin- 
guished from the material light and heat which he produces. Sun and 
Moon are sons of the Creator ; the Moon was smeared with genipa when 
he had homosexual relations with his brother. 

Eclipses are caused by the Eternal Bat — according to the ancient 
Guarani, by the Celestial Jaguar — which gnaws the Sun or the Moon. 
The Apapocuva have a very pessimistic outlook on the future of the 
world ; they are firmly convinced that its end is near. Very soon Our 
Great Father will set the earth on fire, unleashing the Eternal Bat and 
the Blue Jaguar which will destroy the stars and mankind. 

The Pan identify the Milky Way with the Celestial Rhea; when the 
bird will have finished eating two heaps of food (Magellanic Clouds) 
it will devour mankind (Lehmann-Nitsche, 1936-37). 


From the period of European Conquest to the present day, the Guarani 
have been periodically stirred up by religious crises similar to messianic 
revivals in other parts of the world. Either a prophet would start a 
religious and political evolution by announcing the end of Spanish rule 


and the approach of a new golden age ; or else some tribe would leave its 
territory in quest of the Land- Without-Evil. According to missionary 
accounts, shamans often represented themselves as the Lords of the 
Universe and preached a holy war against the intruders. These messiahs 
performed rites and expressed ideas that, like the redeemer concept, in- 
cluded many borrowings from Christianity. 

During the last century, three Guarani groups, the Apapocuva, the 
Tanygud, and the Oguauiva, fearing an imminent destruction of the world 
announced by their shamans, desperately attempted to reach the Land- 
Without-Evil, where there is abundance of all good things and eternal 
life. Since most authorities located the paradise somewhere in the east, 
beyond the sea, these migrations were directed toward the Atlantic Coast. 
In 1910, a group of Apapocuva sought to lose weight through dancing, 
so as to fly over the ocean. 

This great hope, which has so deeply influenced the destiny of these 
Indians, is based on a myth which describes the first destruction of the 
universe by fire and water. A shaman forced his people to dance day and 
night so as to open the way to the heavenly country. Modern Guarani 
often tried to emulate this act, irrespective of repeated failures, which 
they blamed on ritual mistakes or on the use of foreign foods. The leaders 
of these movements were always famous shamans surrounded by an aura 
of mystery. 


Ambrosetti, 1895 a, 1895 b, 1896; Azara, 1809, 1904; Baldus, 1929; Bertoni, 1920, 
1922; Blanco, 1931; Bode, 1918; Borba, 1904; Cardiel, 1900; Cartas Anuas, 1927-29; 
Charlevoix, 1757; Comentarios de Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca (see Pedro Her- 
nandez, 1852); Dobrizhoffer, 1784; Fishbach, 1929; Hernandez, Pedro, 1852; Her- 
nandez, Pablo, 1913; Ihering, 1895, 1904, 1906; Jarque, 1900; Koenigswald, Von, 
1908; Kunert, 1890, 1891, 1892; Kunike, 1911; Lehmann-Nitsche, 1936-37; Linn6, 
1936 ; Lothrop, 1932 ; Loukotka, 1929 ; Lozano, 1873-75 ; Mayntzhusen, 1912 ; Medina, 
J. T., 1908; Metraux, 1927, 1928 a, 1928 b, 1932; Meyer, 1896; Moreno, 1926; Miiller, 
1934-35; Muratori, 1754; Netto, 1885; Nimuendaju, 1914 a; Outes, 1917, 1918; 
Ramirez in J. T. Medina, 1908 (also Ramirez, Luis, 1888) ; Rengger, 1835; Ruiz de 
Montoya, 1876 (1640), 1892; Schmidel, 1903; Schmidt, M., 1932; Serrano, 1936; 
Strelnikov, 1928; Techo, 1673, 1897; Torres, L. M., 1913; Ullrich, 1906; Vellard, 
1934, 1937, 1939 a; Vogt, 1904. 


By Alfred Metraux 


Tupinamba. — This name is applied here to all the Indians speaking a 
Tupi-Guarani dialect, who in the 16th century were masters of the Bra- 
zilian shore from the mouth of the Amazon River to Cananea, in the 
south of the State of Sao Paulo (map 1, No. 1 ; see Volume 1, map 7). 
Though linguistically and culturally closely related, these Indians were 
divided into a great many tribes that waged merciless war against one 
another. Most of these groups were given different names by the Por- 
tuguese and French colonists, but the term Tupinamba was applied to 
the tribes of such widely separated regions as Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, and 
Maranhao. Because these are the best-known tribes, we shall, for con- 
venience, apply to all of them the term Tupinamba; we shall, however, 
carefully distinguish each subdivision when defining its geographical 

Coastal tribes. — From north to south we have : 

Tupinamba. — Occupying, along with small infiltrations of Teremembe 
(Handbook, vol. 1, p. 573), the whole coast between the Parnahyba 
(Parnaiba) and the Para Rivers at the end of the 16th century (lat. l''-4° 
S., long. 42°-48° W.). Approximately 12,000 lived on the Island of 
Maranhao in 27 villages. In three other districts, Tapuytapera, Comma, 
and Caite, there were about 35 villages, with a total population of approxi- 
mately 27,000. There were also numerous villages along the Pindare, 
Mearim, and Itapecuru Rivers. On the Para River their last villages were 
far upstream, near the Jacunda and Pacaja Rivers. 

Potiguara (Potivara, Cannibals, Cannibaliers). — ^A large tribe on the 
coast between the Parnahyba (Parnaiba) and Paraiba (Parahyba) 
Rivers. On the mainland, they reached the Serra de Copaoba and the 
Serra da Ibiapaba. (Lat. 5°-8° S., long. 36°-38° W.) 

At the end of the 16th century, the Potigunra were expelled from the 
region of the Parahyba by the Portuguese allied to the Tabajara, but many 
villages of Ceara accepted the Portuguese rule. Cruelly treated by Pero 
Coelho in 1603, they banded with the Dutch and waged war against the 
Portuguese until 1654. At that time, the survivors of the tribe who had 
not fled into the bush were placed in missions by the Jesuits. The Poti- 
guara, in spite of their former alliance with the French and the Dutch, 
became loyal allies of the Portuguese, whom they accompanied in many 



expeditions. They were rewarded by grants of lands. Their names disap- 
pear in the 18th century (Studart Filho, 1931, pp. 91-99). 

Caete (Caite). — On the Atlantic shore between the Paraiba and the 
Sao Francisco Rivers (lat. 8°-ir S., long. 36° W.). 

Tupinamba. — On the Atlantic shore from the Sao Francisco River to 
Camamu, in the south (lat. 11°-15° S., long. 37°-39° W.). 

Tupinikin (Tupiniguin, Mar gay a, Tuaya). — Occupying only a narrow 
strip of the coast from Camamu to the Sao Mateus (Cricare) River, per- 
haps reaching Espirito Santo in the south (lat. 16°-21° S., long. 39"- 
40° W.). 

Timimino (Tomomyno). — In the south of the State of Espirito Santo 
and on the lower course and islands of the Paraiba River (lat. 22° S., 
long. 41° W.). The Timimino were constantly at war with the Tupinamba 
of Rio de Janeiro. 

Tupinamba (Tamoyo). — Masters of the coast from Cabo de Sao Tome 
to the Bay of Angra dos Reis and even perhaps to CairoQu Point (lat. 
23°-24° S., long. 42°-45° W.). Their inland limits are unknown, but it 
is likely that they had villages on the upper Parahyba River. 

Ararape. — This name is given by Cardim to the Tupinamba of the 
hinterland of Rio de Janeiro. 

Tupinakin (Tupiniguin, Tupi, Tabayara). — These southern neighbors 
and bitter enemies of the Tupinamba of Rio de Janeiro were the early 
inhabitants of the modern State of Sao Paulo. They were on the coast 
from Angra dos Reis to Cananea. They had villages on the Serra 
Paranapiacaba and in the vast region between the modern city of Sao 
Paulo and the Tiete River. (Lat. 24°-26° S., long. 45°-48° W.) Some 
groups probably lived near long. 50° W. 

Inland tribes. — The following tribes lived in the sertao, i.e., the region 
inland from the Brazilian coast : 

The name Tobayara is without any doubt a derogatory term meaning 
enemy. Because it was given by many Tupi tribes to their hostile neigh- 
bors, and because different tribes appear in the literature under the same 
name, there is much confusion. Tobayara has been applied to: (1) the 
TM/>f-speaking Indians east of the Mearim River, State of Maranhao; 
(2) the Indians of the Serra da Ibiapaba; (3) the TM/»f-speaking Indians 
living west of the Potiguara tribe ; (4) the Tupi Indians of the Pernam- 
buco region; (5) the first Tupi invaders of Bahia; (6) Indians in 
the State of Espirito Santo; (7) the Tupinakin of the State of Sao 
Paulo. All seven of these Indian groups lived inland and were called 
Tobayara by the Tupinamba of the coast. Because most of these Tobay- 
ara are also known under other names, we shall restrict Tobayara to the 
Tw/'i-speaking Indians of Maranhao (lat. 4° S., long. 42° W.). 

Tabayara {Tobajara, Miari engilare, Miarigois). — Their native terri- 
tory was the Serra Grande of Ceara (Serra da Ibiapaba), where they 


extended to Camocim. Attacked by Pedro Coelho at the beginning of 
the 17th century, the inhabitants of 70 of their villages migrated to the 
region of Maranhao. They settled on the upper Mearim River, where 
they were known to the French as "Indians of the Mearim" (Miarigois) . 
The emigrants disappeared as a result of their wars against the French 
and the "Tapuya" and of smallpox epidemics. In 1637, the Tabayara 
allied themselves to the Dutch to wage war against the Portuguese of 
Maranhao. Their Christianization was undertaken about 1656, but was 
soon interrupted by a rebellion which lasted until 1673. Then again the 
Jesuits established missions among them. Their name appears in ofificial 
documents until 1720. 

Tupina (Tohayara, Tupiguae). — Scattered in the woods from north of 
the Sao Francisco River to the Camamu River in the south (lat. 11°-15° 
S., long. 37°-42° W.). Their eastern neighbors were the Caete, the 
Tupinamha, and the Tupinikin. 

Amoipira. — A detached branch of the Tupinamha, living in the hinter- 
land of Bahia on the left side of the Sao Francisco River (lat. 7°-14° S., 
long. 39°-43° W.). 

Tupinamha tribes that are mentioned in the literature but cannot be 
localized exactly are: The Viatan, formerly living in the region of Pern- 
ambuco but exterminated by the Potiguara and the Portuguese ; the Apiga- 
pigtanga; the Muriapigtanga in the vicinity of the Tupina; the Guaracaio 
or Itati, enemies of the Tupinikin; the Arahoyara, and the Rariguora, 
whose names only are known. 


The various descriptions of the Tupinamha culture, though concerned 
with Indians as widely apart as those of the Maranhao region and of 
Rio de Janeiro, harmonize in the smallest details. Such uniformity among 
groups scattered over an enormous area suggests a comparatively recent 
separation. This view is fully supported by historical traditions and 
events that occurred after European colonization. The Tupi tribes seem 
to have dispersed from a common center at a relatively recent date. 
Their migrations ended only in the second half of the 16th century. The 
earlier inhabitants of the Brazilian coast from the Amazon River to the 
Rio de la Plata were a great many tribes ambiguously called "Tapuya" 
by the Tupinamha and the Portuguese. At the time of the discovery of 
Brazil they had been pushed into the woods but still remained near the 
coast waging war against the Tupinamha invaders, whose intrusion was 
so recent that they had not had time to exterminate or assimilate the 
former masters of the coastal region. Many "Tapuya^' had remained 
in possession of the shore, forming ethnic islands among the TM/^f-speak- 
ing tribes (Handbook, vol. 1, pp. 553-556; map 1, No. 18; map 7). The 
Terememhe wandered along the coast of Maranhao. The Waitaka of 


Espirito Santo and the Wayana (Goyana) of Sao Paulo are listed among 
the Coastal Indians by our sources. Tupinamba tradition held that the 
non-Tw/'f-speaking Quirigma were the first inhabitants of Bahia, and that 
the Aenaguig preceded the Tupinikin in their habitat. The Maraca of the 
hinterland of Bahia were an enclave among Tupinamba tribes. 

The only invasions historically recorded are those which took place in 
the regions of Bahia, Pernambuco, Maranhao, and Para. The first migra- 
tion of the Tupinamba (in a wider sense) to the coast is that of the 
Tupina (known also as Tobayara) . They drove the "Tapnya" from the 
seashore, but later were forced to relinquish their conquests to the Tupi- 
namba proper and settled in the hinterland. A branch of the Tupinamba 
that had been warring against the "Tapuya" did not reach the coast in time 
and remained on the Sao Francisco River, where they were known as 
Amoipira. The Tupinikin of Porto Seguro migrated from the north and 
may have been the southern wing of the same Tupinamba invasion. 

The region of Maranhao was settled in the second half of the 16th 
century by Tupinamba from Pernambuco, where they had been defeated 
and driven back by the Portuguese colonists. 

Several typical messianic outbursts took place in the second part of the 
16th century when the various Tupinamba tribes were forced to yield 
ground to the Portuguese and were being either wholly outrooted or 
enslaved. Here, as elsewhere in the New World, these crises were 
prompted by shamans or prophets who announced the return of the mythi- 
cal ages and the disappearance of the white scourge. Following a deeply 
engrained tradition among the Tupi tribes, these prophets exhorted them 
to depart for the "land-of-immortality" where the Culture hero had retired 
after his earthly adventure. In 1605, a party of Tupinamba led by a 
prophet, whom they worshiped as a deity, left the region of Pernambuco 
to invade the territory of Maranhao, which then was held by the French. 
The invaders were defeated by the Portiguara and the French at the Serra 
da Ibiapaba. Earlier, a group of Potiguara also set out on a journey to 
look for the Earthly Paradise, at the prompting of a shaman who pretended 
to be a resurrected ancestor. 

About 1540, several thousands of Tupinamba left the coast of Brazil 
in quest of the "land-of-immortality-and-perpetual-rest" and, in 1549, 
arrived at Chachapoyas in Peru. As they mentioned having passed through 
a region where gold was abundant, their reports induced the Spaniards 
to organize several expeditions to discover El Dorado (Metraux, 1927). 

The Tupinambarana, discovered by Acuiia (1891) on the Amazonian 
island that bears their name, were also Tupinamba of Pernambuco who 
had deserted their home country to escape Portuguese tyranny. They 
traveled up the Amazon River, thence up the Madeira River, finally coming 
in contact with Spanish settlements in eastern Bolivia. Vexed by the 
Spanish colonists, they returned down the Madeira River to its mouth 


and settled the island of Tupinambarana. In 1690 they seem to have been 
on the decline, for the Guayarise had moved into their territory (Fritz, 
1922, p. 72). 



Farming. — The Tiipinamha drew a large part of their subsistence from 
farming. Manioc, especially the poisonous variety, was their staple ; second 
in importance was maize, five varieties of which were cultivated, one of 
them being particularly useful to travelers because it remained tender for 
a long period. 

Other crops listed in early sources are: Cara {Dioscorea sp.), mangara 
{Xanthosoma majaffa), taia (taioba, Xanthosoma sp.),^ sweet potatoes, 
lima beans, kidney beans, pumpkins (Cucurbita moschata) , peanuts, pine- 
apples, and pepper. Bananas were grown on a large scale soon after the 
discovery of Brazil. Sugarcane and sorghum {Sorghum vulgare) were 
also eagerly adopted from the first White colonists. Several trees, such 
as cashews and papayas, may have been cultivated in the fields and near 
the huts. 

The Tupinamba grew several nonfood plants : gourds, calabash trees, 
tobacco, cotton, urucu, and probably genipa. 

The Tupinamba cleared farm land in the forests near their villages, 
felling the trees with stone axes and burning them a few months later. 
The ashes served as fertilizer. Women did all planting and harvesting. 
At the beginning of the dry season, they set out manioc cuttings and 
sliced tubers, and planted maize and beans in holes made with pointed 
sticks. They did no other work except some occasional weeding. They 
allowed bean vines to climb on charred tree trunks but sometimes added 
sticks as auxiliary props. To increase the cotton yield, they thinned the 
trees twice a year. Only the women who had planted peanuts might 
harvest them, a task which entailed special ceremonies. 

Collecting wild foods. — The Tupinamba supplemented their diet with 
many wild fruits and nuts, such as jucara, mangaba (Hancornia speciosd), 
cashew (Anacardium occidentale) , sapucaia {Lecythis ollaria), araqa 
orguave (Psidium variabile), mocujes (Couma rigida), araticus {Rollinia 
exalbida), hoyriti (Diplothemium maritimum), jaboticaba {Myrciaria 
cauliflora), acaja {Spondias purpurea), pindo palm (Orbignya speciosa), 
and aricuri {Cocos coronata), etc. The Tupinamba discovered the watery, 
edible roots of the imbii tree (Spondias tuberosa) by the sound made when 
striking the ground with a stick. Like the Chaco Indians, they ate the 
fruits and roots of caraguata {Bromelia sp.). 

The Tupinamba were fond of the igas, or tanajuras ant, with a fat 
abdomen, which they roasted and ate. Women lured these ants from 

1 There is, however, apparently some confusion between mangara {Xanthosoma mafaffa) and 



their recesses with magic spells. They also collected hundreds of guara 
(Eudocimus ruber) eggs and roasted them on babracots in order to keep 
them as a food reserve. These tribes eagerly sought honey, not only for 
its food value but because the wax was important in their industries. They 
gathered quantities of oysters {Ostrea rhisophorae), which occur abund- 
antly along the coast where they cling to the roots of mangrove trees. 
Many people relied even more on sea food than on game. Whole villages 
went to the seashore during certain months to gather oysters, which they 
ate or preserved by smoking them on babracots. Many of the sambaquis 
(shell mounds) of the Atlantic Coast (see vol. 1, p. 401) are formed of 
Tupinamba kitchen refuse. 

Hunting. — The chase was a major masculine occupation ; Indians wish- 
ing to eulogize their country declared that it abounded in game — deer, 
wild pigs, monkeys, agouti, armadillos, forest hens, pigeons, etc. But 
recorded hunting methods are neither numerous nor elaborate, and 
collective hunting is mentioned only in connection with certain ratlike 
rodents, which were surrounded by a party of men and forced into a 
previously dug ditch, where they were clubbed to death. Most hunting 
was carried on by individuals or by small groups of men. 

The hunting weapons were bows and arrows. Long bows were gen- 
erally made of hard black wood — ^pao d'arco {Tecoma impetiginosa) , ayri 
palm {Astroearyum ayri) — or of jacaranda or sapucaia. The front part 
was convex, the string side flat. The stave was sometimes partially covered 
with a basketry sheath and trimmed with feathers. The bow-string was 
of cotton or tucum fiber {Astroearyum eampestre), sometimes painted 
green or red. The arrows had four main types of head : ( 1 ) a lanceolate 
bamboo (taquara) blade with sharp edges for killing large animals; (2) a 
simple tapering piece of hard wood, which was barbed for most arrows ; 
(3) a head like the last but tipped with a bone splinter, a fish bone, or a 
spur of a sting ray that formed a barb ; (4) a wooden knob to stun birds 
and monkeys. Fishing arrows will be mentioned later. 

Arrow shafts were made of straight reeds (Gynerimn sagittatum) with- 
out knobs. The feathering was of the "East Brazilian," or tangential type : 
Two feathers with their barbs cut off along one side were laid spirally 
against the shaft and fixed with cotton thread at their extremities. The 
terminal nock seems to have been reinforced with a wooden plug. 

The Tupinamba quickly learned to train the dogs, which they received 
from Europeans soon after the Discovery, to hunt game, especially agouti. 
They beat jaguars from the bush with packs of dogs. 

Caimans, which were eaten with relish, were first shot with arrows and 
then killed with clubs. Small animals, such as lizards, were caught almost 
exclusively by children. 

Blinds, traps, and snares. — Large blinds for watching and shooting 
birds were built in treetops. 


Jaguars and tapirs were caught in concealed pit falls dug across their 
main paths. A more elaborate jaguar trap consisted of an enclosure of 
strong poles. In entering it, the animal stepped on a contrivance that 
caused a heavy log to fall and crush him. Jaguars also were captured by 
means of spring snares. A noose attached to a bent pole — the spring — 
was laid open on the animal's path. If the jaguar stepped near it, his 
weight caused a trigger to fall which allowed the pole to spring upright 
and pulled the noose up around one of his paws. The jaguar was then 
shot with arrows, whereupon apologies were made to its carcass lest it 
take revenge on its murderers. Small traps, snares, and nets were em- 
ployed to catch small mammals and birds. Parrots were lassoed with a 
noose on the end of a pole. 

Fishing. — Living by the ocean and on numerous rivers along the 
Brazilian coast, the Tupinamba had access to large supplies of sea food. 
During certain times of the year they lived almost exclusively on fish. 
After the rainy season, the Tupinamba of Maranhao left their villages for 
several weeks to camp (fig. 6, bottom) along the shore near shallow 
lagoons that swarmed with fish. Enormous quantities of parati fish 
(Mugil brasiliensis) were also caught in August while swimming upstream 
to spawn. This month was, therefore, a propitious time for war expedi- 
tions, the rivers yielding a reliable supply of food. Shoals of fish were 
driven into empty canoes by striking the water with sticks. Fish, if 
numerous, were also dipped out with sieves and gourds, especially at 
night when attracted by torchlight. Men armed with fish nets formed a 
barrier against which fish were driven by striking the water. Rivers and 
coves were often closed with weirs made of branches or with dams of 
stones. Fishermen standing on the dam scooped up the fish with dip 
nets. Funnel-shaped baskets were placed in running water at narrow 
passages where the fish would be forced to enter them and be caught. The 
Tupinamba were skillful at shooting fish either with arrows tipped with 
several hardwood prongs or with harpoon arrows. They also killed fish 
by poisoning calm waters with the juices of several creepers, such as 
timbo (Dahlstedtia pinnata) and the tingui (Tephrosia toxicaria). Na- 
tive hooks, which disappeared rapidly after European contact, were made 
ot' thorns; fishlines, of tucuma (Bactris setosa) fibers. The Tupinamba 
were said to be such good swimmers that they could even dive and catch 
fish with their hands. 

Domestication. — Pets, numerous in any village, were mainly birds and 
a few such animals as wild pigs, agouti, monkeys, and even armadillos 
and caimans. Certain birds, such as ducks, a kind of turkey, and pigeons, 
may actually have been domesticated. These ducks, however, were not 
eaten lest their flesh cause a person to become slow. Tame parrots were 
taught to speak and became an important article of trade with Europeans, 
but also had a certain economic value in native culture, for they were 


plucked every year, and their feathers were made into ornaments. The 
Tupinamba changed the natural colors of the feathers of green parrots by 
"tapirage." By rubbing with the blood of a frog (Rana tinctoriaf) the 
sores left by plucking the birds, they caused the new feathers to grow 
yellow or red. These Indians eagerly received domesticated fowls brought 
to them by Europeans and unquestionably aided their diffusion in eastern 
South America. They never ate these fowls, but plucked them, especially 
the white ones, as they did native birds. The feathers were dyed in a 
decoction of Brazil wood (Caesalpinia echinata). When the Tupinamba 
received their first dogs from the Portuguese, they called them "jaguars." 
They grew so fond of them that the women carried the puppies like 
babies. The Tupinamba also kept European pigs, but did not care for 
their flesh. 

Food preparation. — Poisonous manioc required lengthy preparation 
before consumption. The tubers were peeled with shells and grated on 
rough-surfaced stones or on special graters, i.e., boards in which stone 
chips or fishbones were imbedded at close intervals. The poisonous juice 
was extracted by squeezing the manioc in a long basketry tube (tipiti). 
Afterward, the pulp was sifted and made into flour ("hard flour") by 
constant stirring while it roasted in a large pottery platter. For wafers 
(beiju), the mass simply was spread in a more or less thick layer on the 
same utensil. 

Another kind of flour ("water flour") was made from tubers which had 
been soaked in running water for many days until they began to decay. 
They were then crushed by hand, strained in the tipiti, and passed through 
a sieve. The pulp was baked as before. A flour called carima was obtained 
from tubers that were rotted, soaked in water, smoked on a babracot, 
pounded in a wooden mortar, and carefully sifted. The famous war flour 
was a combination of "water flour" and carima baked for a long time until 
dried and well roasted. This flour, which would keep for more than a 
year, was carried by travelers and warriors in waterproof satchels plaited 
of palm leaves. 

Aypi, or sweet manioc, could be eaten directly after boiling or roasting, 
but was cultivated mainly for brewing mead. It was also made into 
various kinds of flour. The juice of both species of manioc, if left in the 
sun for a while, deposited its starch, which was baked and eaten. Other 
tubers, such as sweet potatoes, card, mangara, and taia, required a less 
elaborate treatment, being either boiled or roasted. Maize, mainly con- 
sumed in the form of flour, was also roasted or boiled. Peanuts were 
broiled and roasted. The name "mingao" designated any mush made of 
manioc or other flour. Mangara and taia leaves were eaten as greens. 

Meat and fish were roasted or boiled. The broth was often mixed 
with manioc flour. Small fish, wrapped in leaves, were cooked under 


ashes. Any surplus of game or fish was dried and smoked for about 
24 hours on a huge babracot, a rectangular four-legged grill or platform 
made of sticks, under which a slow fire burned. Another method for 
preserving meat and fish was to pound it into a sort of pemmican or flour. 

Condiments comprised mainly several species of pepper and occasion- 
ally a grass called nhamby (coentro do sertao, Eryngium foetidum.). 
Salt was obtained by evaporating sea water in ditches dug near the shore 
or by boiling it in large pots. It was also made by boiling lye made of 
palm-wood ashes. Salt and ground pepper were generally mixed, and 
every morsel of food was dipped in this powder before being eaten. 

The Tupiimmba ate in silence, all squatting on the ground around a 
big dish, except the head of the extended family, who lay in his hammock. 
They were expert at throwing into their mouths manioc flour, which 
accompanied every dish. Many persons washed before and after every 


Tupinamba villages consisted of from 4 to 8 huge communal houses 
built around a square plaza., where the social and religious life of the 
community centered (fig. 6, top). Houses varied in length from about 
50 to 500 feet (15 to 150 m.), the average being about 250 to 300 feet 
(75 to 90 m.), and in width from 30 to 50 feet (9 to 15 m.). The height 
was about 12 feet (3.5 m.). Thirty families, that is, more than 100 people, 
could live in a dwelling ; some houses even had as many as 200 occupants. 

Houses were constructed on a rectangular ground plan. The roof was 
arched or vaulted, apparently descending to the ground, thus also form- 
ing the side walls — hence the frequent comparison in the ancient litera- 
ture to overturned boats. The structure was thatched with leaves of 
pindo palm, patiaba, or capara {Geonoma sp.) artfully sewn or woven 
together so as to be entirely waterproof. There was a low door at each 
end and one or sometimes two on the side. In the interior, the quarters 
of each family were marked off by two wall posts. The family ham- 
mocks were suspended from additional posts. Possessions, such as cala- 
bashes, pots, weapons, and provisions, were stored in the rafters or on 
small platforms. Each family kept a fire burning day and night in its 
compartment. The center of the hut was left free as a communal passage- 
way. The head of the extended family, his relatives, and slaves were 
accommodated in the middle or in some other privileged part of the long 
house. Hammocks, carved benches, and pottery of all sizes and shapes 
comprised the usual household equipment. 

Villages were located on hilltops, where the air was not too stifling. 
Those exposed to enemy attacks were fortified with a double stockade 
(fig. 6, top), having embrasures for archers. The access to the village 
was defended with pitfalls and caltrops. 

The Tupinamba shifted their villages when the house thatching began 



Figure b.—Tupinamba palisaded village {top) and camp {bottom). 
(After Staden, 1557.) 

Vol. 3] 



to rot or when the soil of their cultivated clearings was exhausted. They 
did not remain in one place more than 4 or 5 years. A new village was 
generally built near the old one and retained the same name. 


In daily life men and women were entirely naked, except that adult 
men, especially old men, wore a penis sheath of leaves. Young men 
contented themselves with a ligature round the prepuce. 

Feather ornaments. — In contrast to this lack of dress, ornaments were 
numerous and showy. On their heads men wore high diadems made of 
the tails of parrots or other bright birds or bonnets of small feathers 
fastened in the knots of a cotton net. The feather fabric was so compact 
that it suggested velvet. Some of these bonnets fell down in the back 
like long, narrow capes (fig. 7, left). The most spectacular feather orna- 



Figure 7. — Tupinamba headdress and ceremonial war club, (b. Approximately 1/14 
actual size.) (Redrawn from Metraux, 1928 a.) 



[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

ments were long, wide cloaks composed entirely of red feathers of the 
guara (Guara rubra). Necklaces, bracelets, and anklets were also 
made of bright feathers. Many feather ornaments, especially cloaks, have 
found their way to European museums. The best feathered specimens 
were collected by the Dutch in their early Brazilian possessions, and are 
now in the National Museum of Copenhagen. For festive occasions or 

Figure 8. — Tupinamba dress. Top: Warriors with ceremonial club and feather-plume 
decoration. Bottom: Labrets. (After Staden, 1557.) 

Vol. 3] 



for war, men suspended on their buttocks an ornament of ostrich plumes 
in the "form of a large round ball to which feathers were attached" (figs. 
8, top; 9, left). 

The love for feathers was so great that men and even women glued 
them to their heads with wax or sprinkled chopped feathers all over 
their bodies, which they had previously coated with gum or honey. Often 
they substitued particles of red or yellow wood for feathers. They also 
pasted with wax on their temples patches of toucan skin covered with 
yellow feathers. Feathers, after use, were carefully collected, cleaned, 
and stored in bamboo tubes sealed with wax. 

Figure 9. — Tupinamba ceremonial objects. Left: Warrior's feather plumes worn on 
hips. Right: Ceremonial club and cord. (After Staden, 1557.) 

Necklaces and garters. — Chiefs and important men had necklaces of 
round or square shell (Strombus pugilis) beads so long — some were 30 
feet (9m.) in length — that they had to be coiled a great many times 
round their necks. Others had strings of black wooden beads {Astro- 
caryum ayri). Warriors displayed necklaces strung with the teeth — 
sometimes as many as 2,(XX) to 3,000 — of their victims. Women used 
similar necklaces, but ordinarily wore them wound around their arms. 
Certain women's bracelets are described as a careful assemblage of small 
pieces of shell imbricated like fish scales. Belts of shell beads are also 
mentioned in the literature. A most precious male heirloom was a cres- 
centic pendant 6 inches to 1 foot (15 to 30 cm.) long, consisting of well- 
polished bone and shell plates worn suspended round the neck by a cotton 

Men and women wore one or two broad cotton garters under the 
knee, men trimming theirs with feathers. In the region of Bahia, these 


garters were bound tightly around little girl's legs to make the calves 
bulge in later life. 

Hairdressing. — Neither sex tolerated any hair on the body. They 
either pulled it out with their fingers, or shaved it with a bamboo splinter 
or a quartz knife. With the same instrument men shaved their foreheads 
back to the level of the ears. Women generally allowed their hair to hang 
loose down their backs, but, when at work, they tied it up over the head 
in a knot or divided it into one or two bundles wrapped with a cotton 
fillet. Combs were made from a fruit with long spikes. The only 
cosmetic was oil extracted from several fruits, generally those of palm 
trees (uucuuba, Myristica sebijera). The natives washed their hair with 
a root or the skins of the Sapindus divaricatus fruit, which makes suds 
when soaked in water and squeezed between the fingers. 

Labrets. — When a Tupinamba boy was 5 or 6 years old, his lower lip 
was pierced, and henceforth he wore in the hole either a plain wooden 
plug or a conical bone stick or a shell. Later in life he substituted a green 
or white stone (beryl, amazonite, chrysoprase, chalcedony, quartz, or 
crystal) shaped like a T or a large button. A few men, generally chiefs 
or medicine men, perforated their cheeks for similar ornaments, some wear- 
ing as many as seven (fig. 8). 

Ear ornaments. — Women inserted in their ear lobes a shell cylinder 
long enough to reach their shoulders or even their breasts. Men wore 
thin bone sticks, similar to bone labrets, in their ears. Some men also 
wore small bone or wooden sticks through the wings of the nose. 

Tattooing. — Both sexes were tattooed. Charcoal or certain plant juices 
were rubbed into wounds made with a rodent's tooth or a shell. A man's 
body was covered with capricious designs, which were extended each time 
he killed a man in war or sacrificed a prisoner. Judging from a contem- 
porary drawing, such tattooing marks formed regular geometrical patterns, 
not unlike designs on pottery. Women were tattooed only at puberty. 

Painting. — On every important occasion, such as a drinking bout, a 
funeral, or the slaughtering of a prisoner, men and women painted their 
bodies. The favorite pigments were black, made of genipa, and red, made 
of urucii. Black and red paint, alone or alternating, covered large surfaces 
of the body, especially the lower limbs. Men and women entrusted them- 
selves to skillful artists, generally women, who traced on their persons 
artistic and capricious patterns consisting of checkers, spirals, waves, and 
other elements similar to those painted on pottery. Blue and yellow, 
though less common, were used on the face in combination with the two 
other pigments. 


Carrying devices. — Heavy loads, such as crops, were carried on the 
back in elongated baskets that were open on the top and outer side. These 
were suspended from the forehead by a tumpline. 


Children were carried straddling the hip, and supported by a sling 
manufactured like a small hammock. 

Boats. — The Tupinavnba had three types of watercraft: (1) Dugouts, 
(2) bark canoes, (3) rafts. Dugouts were hollowed out of huge logs by 
the laborious process of burning and scraping the charred wood away. 
The Tupinaniba of Bahia could finish a canoe in a few days by using the 
ubiragara tree (Ficus doliaria or Cavanillesia arbor ea), which has a soft 
inside. Large dugouts were manned by 30 to 60 men. 

To build a bark canoe, they erected a platform around a suitable tree, 
peeled the bark off in one large piece, and heated it to bend it "in front 
and behind, but first lashed it together with wood so that it did not stretch." 
This craft, sometimes 40 feet (12 m.) long, held from 25 to 30 persons. 
Like the dugouts, these canoes were used for raids along the coast. 

The Tupinaniba paddled their canoes standing up. The blades were 
lanceolate in shape, the handles without cross bars or knobs. The Caete 
navigated the Sao Francisco River, and even along the coast as far as 
Bahia, on huge rafts or balsas made of reed bundles tied up with creepers 
and connected with transverse sticks. Such rafts could easily transport 10 
to 12 Indians. 

Fishermen sat on small rafts (piperi), made of four or five thick round 
pieces of light wood bound together with creepers, and propelled them 
with a flat stick. 


Miscellaneous tools. — Trees were felled with stone axes. Ax heads 
were hafted with a withy bent double around their butts and held fast 
with bast. Stone chisels, similarly hafted, served for carving. Rodent 
teeth and wild pig tusks, "bound between two sticks," served for boring. 
Shells or bamboo splinters were employed as knives. They polished 
bows with the rough leaves of mbaiba (Cecropia adenopus) . 

Basketry. — Basketry included sieves, fire fans, containers of different 
types, and perhaps also fish traps. Temporary baskets were made of 
plaited palm leaves. Those intended for longer service were manufactured 
of creepers (Serjania or Paullinia) split into thin strips, which were 
twilled, yielding geometrical patterns when the strips were black and white. 

Spinning and weaving. — Cotton threads were spun with a spindle — 
a stick with a flat, circular wooden whorl. Women rolled the spindle along 
the thigh to set it in motion and then dropped it. Ropes were twisted 
of cotton and other fibers ; or were sometimes plaited for ceremonial use. 

The Tupiimmba knew only the simplest technique of twined weaving, 
which was used for the fabric of the hammocks. The warp strands were 
wrapped horizontally around two vertical posts and twined together with 
double wefts. Some fabrics were woven so tightly as to appear to be true 
woven cloth. 



[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

Pottery. — Tupinamba pottery was highly praised by early voyagers, 
but the few extant specimens do not show unusual technical or artistic 
skill. Bowls, dishes, and vases had simple forms : round, oval, and even 
square (fig. 10). They were often painted on the inside with red and 
black linear motifs on a white background and were also glazed with resin 
(for instance, the resin of the icica, Protium brasiliense). The most con- 
spicuous pots were huge jars, with a capacity of about 14 gallons (50 
liters), for storing beer. These and cooking pots often were decorated 
with thumbnail impressions made in the wet clay, an embellishment typical 


Figure 10, — Tupinamba and Guarani pottery, a, b, d, e, Tupinamba-, others, Guarani. 
(Redrawn from Metraux, 1928 a.) 


of many Tupi tribes. Pottery was baked in a shallow pit covered with 
fuel. The best pot makers were the old women. Tradition had it that a 
pot which was not baked by the person who modeled it would surely crack. 

Fire making. — Fire was generated by a drill and activated by a fire 
fan. Torches were sticks of ibiraba wood, which burned steadily once the 
end fibers had been unraveled. 

Weapons. — See Hunting (p. 100). 

Calabashes. — Halved gourds served as dishes and bowls. The interior 
was generally smeared with genipa and the exterior with a yellow varnish. 
Small containers or mortars were made of the shell of the sapucaia fruits. 


From existing documents, we can only surmise the type of social 
organization prevailing among the Tupinamba. Like many Guiana In- 
dians, they lived in large communal houses, whose occupants were related 
either by blood or by marriage and were probably the members of a 
patrilineal extended family. A man's brother's daughter was regarded 
as his daughter, but his sister's daughter was his potential wife. The 
children of a woman of the tribe by a captive father were regarded as 
members of the enemy group and were consequently eaten by their 
mother's relatives. The children of a tribesman were always full-fledged 
members of the community irrespective of the mother's status. 

Marriage. — The preferred marriages were between cross-cousins and 
between a girl and her mother's brother, or in case there were none, the 
mother's nearest male relative. The maternal uncle carefully supervised 
the conduct of his future bride if he did not wish to take advantage of his 
marital claim, and had to be consulted if his niece wanted to marry another 
man. If the husband were not the girl's mother's brother, he became his 
father-in-law's servant. He had to assist him in all economic activities, 
such as house building, opening clearings, hunting, fishing, and fuel gather- 
ing. He also had to accompany him on the warpath, carry his burdens, 
and supply him with food and shelter. To gain the favor of his in-laws, 
the bridegroom would assume the responsibility of revenging the death 
of any of his affinal relatives and ofifer a prisoner he might have taken to 
one of his brothers-in-law, who would kill the captive, thereby increasing 
his prestige by a change of his name, A hard fate it was indeed for 
those who had few relatives and were, therefore, compelled to live with 
their in-laws. "Marriage," says Thevet (1575), "costs the man a great 
deal of work and pain." Suitors, according to Soares de Souza (1851, 
p. 311), worked 2 or 3 years before they acquired their wives; and after 
this they had to settle with their in-laws and remain in their service. 

Marriage, in its initial phase at least, seems to have been strictly 
matrilocal, but the general tendency for any man was to liberate himself 


from his subordinate position by settling with his wife in his parents' long 
house. Chiefs could do away with matrilocalism and take their wives 
home; a man related to a powerful family could buy his liberty with 
presents and favors bestowed on his in-laws; and any man might also 
gain his freedom by marrying his daughter to his wife's brother. 

A widow generally married her husband's older brother or one of his 
close relatives who had avenged her husband's death, if it had occurred 
in battle, or who had taken a prisoner to "renew" the deceased spouse's 
grave and wear his ornaments, in case of a natural death. (See p. 120.) 
The second husband was expected to be as valiant as the first. 

Once redeemed from his bondage, a man could take other wives and 
often did at the request of a wife eager to share her tasks with them. The 
first wife always retained a preeminent position, however, and enjoyed the 
right to hang her hammock next to that of her husband. Each wife of a 
polygynous man "had her separate lodging in the huts, her own fire and 
root plantation, and that one with whom he (the husband) cohabited for 
the time being, gave him his food, and thus he went the round of them" 
(Staden, 1928, p. 146). 

A man could also have wives scattered in different villages. Polygynous 
wives were given to surprisingly little jealousy and quarreling, though they 
often included women of other villages who had been captured in war. 

A young man unable to find a marriageable girl or lacking a mother or 
sister to cook for him did not hesitate to take some aging woman as first 
wife, whom he would discard when he could obtain a more suitable mate. 
Warriors of renown and famous medicine men had no difficulty in 
acquiring new wives, who were readily given to them by their fathers 
or brothers. Some chiefs had as many as 30 wives. Polygyny was thus 
a mark of prestige and a source of wealth. Matrimonial ties were easily 
broken by either spouse, sometimes for reasons that appear to us trifling. 
The divorced woman, if young, would remarry. An adulteress was not 
severely punished unless her husband was a great chief ; but if a captive 
or without a family to revenge her, she might be killed. The guilty partner 
was unmolested, lest his kin start a feud. 

Prestige. — ^A man with several daughters attained considerable au- 
thority and prestige because he had under him both his sons-in-law and 
his daughters' suitors. Men who had changed names often, having killed 
several enemies in battle or sacrificed captives on the village plaza, acquired 
great prestige and influence in the community. 

Slaves. — Though, with few exceptions, all prisoners, male or female, 
were eventually eaten, they were kept long enough in the community to be 
considered a special class within Tupinamha society. Possession of a 
prisoner was an envied privilege. One who enjoyed it did not hesitate to 
make the greatest sacrifices to keep his charge happy and in good health. 
A man would starve rather than deprive his captive of food, and usually 


gave him a daughter or sister as a wife. Lacking a close female relative, 
the captor would ask a friend to give him a woman for the purpose, a 
request sure to be granted, for conjugal ties with a prisoner were regarded 
as honorable. In certain cases the prisoner was married to the widow of 
a warrior killed before his capture and was allotted the deceased's ham- 
mock and ornaments. The relations between a prisoner and his new wife 
were identical with those of any other married couple and were supposed 
to last forever, the woman being just as attached to her temporary husband 
as in normal wedlock. These prisoners' wives, it is said, had the respon- 
sibility of preventing their husbands from running away, but the statement 
is to be accepted with reserve. Some authors report cases of women who 
grew so fond of their husbands that they escaped with them. 

Female captives were often taken as secondary wives or concubines by 
their masters, but sooner or later they were ritually sacrificed unless they 
belonged to an influential man who had become fond of them. If their 
masters did not care for them, they were allowed to have sexual relations 
with whomever they wished. The skulls of female captives who died a 
natural death were crushed. 

Prisoners were kindly treated and regarded their masters, whose quar- 
ters they shared, as relatives. The Tupinamba were heartbroken to see 
Europeans mistreat the prisoners they had sold to them. They would come 
from far away to visit them, and would hide and protect any of their 
former slaves who escaped. 

Prisoners had fields for their maintenance and were free to hunt or 
fish. They were welcome at the feasts and drinking bouts. It seems, 
however, that, like a son-in-law or a brother-in-law, they were obliged 
to work for their masters. They were, moreover, reminded of their servile 
condition by a few restrictions and humiliations. They could not make a 
present or work for anybody without their masters' consent. They were 
forbidden to enter a hut through the thatched wall, though other people 
might do so. They must, under pain of death, avoid amorous relations 
with a married woman. If they fell sick, they were immediately sacrificed. 
Further, at any time they could be the target for the most violent insults 
and abuses. A woman who refused to accept willingly the sacrifice of 
children she had by a prisoner, was severly censured, and her family 
shared her disrepute. 


Each long house had a headman who was under the village chief. Some 
villages had two or even three or four chiefs, if we may rely on Claude 
d' Abbeville's census of the Maranhao region. Some chiefs extended their 
power over a whole district and commanded a great many villages. Rank 
was determined by war prowess (capture and ceremonial execution of 
prisoners), magic power, oratorical gifts, and wealth. 


Soares de Souza writes: 

The chief must be a man of courage. He has to belong to a large family and to 
be well liked by its members so that they are willing to help cultivate his plantations, 
but even when he opens a clearing with the assistance of relatives, he is the first to 
put his hand to the task. [Soares de Souza, 1851, p. 325.] 

The authority of chiefs, undisputed in war time, was subordinated to 
the sanction of a council in peace. 

This council was composed of the elder men and famous warriors, 
who met on the village plaza for any important decision. The chief spoke 
first, and then each councilor in turn gave his opinion, while the others, 
according to their rank, sat in their hammocks or squatted on the ground 
smoking huge cigarettes. 

Each morning the headman of a hut assigned everybody a task and 
delivered a speech encouraging the people to go to work and follow the 
good example of their ancestors. 

Chieftainship was inherited by the son or the brother of the deceased 
chief, if he had the required qualifications. 

Social control and justice. — Social control over the individual's 
behavior was very strong. Great stress was put on the smoothness of 
manners and gentleness, any outburst of anger being looked on with 
abhorrence. People shunned the company of temperamental persons. 
If an Indian felt incapable of controlling his feelings, he warned those 
present, who immediately tried to calm him down. When a serious 
quarrel broke out in a village, the individuals involved went to the ex- 
treme of burning their own houses, challenging their adversaries to do 
likewise. Under the influence of anger, these Indians were prone to 
commit suicide by eating soil. 

Blood revenge was a sacred duty. When a homicide might involve 
two allied groups in a feud, the relatives of the murderer often did not 
hesitate to kill him, lest the peace be disturbed. 

The cooperation of neighbors or relatives in any joint enterprise was 
rewarded by a drinking party organized by the beneficiaries. A hunter 
or a fishermen, upon returning home, shared his catch first with the 
headman of the long house and then with the members of his household. 
The Tupinamhas' generosity and willingness to share anything they had 
are often stressed by the old sources. Anybody could, without asking 
for permission, use utensils belonging to some housemate, 


Guests were greeted with tears. As soon as a visitor entered a hut 
he was surrounded by the women of the house, who showed their sym- 
pathy by friendly gestures and started to cry, intermingling their laments 
with chants in which they alluded to the dead members of the community 
and to other mournful subjects. The guest had to pretend that he was 


shedding tears. When the crying had ceased, the male hosts, who had 
affected indifference, turned toward the newcomer and welcomed him. 
Any member of the community who had been absent, even for a short 
time, was received with weeping when he returned. Chiefs were greeted 
with tears even if they had only walked to their nearby fields. 

The mournful manifestations by which a returning traveler was greeted 
were actually the reenactment of a funeral rite with which the absent 
person or the guest was associated. 

LIFE cycle: birth, puberty, death 

Birth. — When a woman felt the first pangs of childbirth, she squatted 
on a fiat piece of wood that leaned against the wall, or directly on the 
ground. Women neighbors surrounded her but gave little assistance. If 
the delivery was difficult, the husband pressed on her stomach. In case 
of a male infant, the father cut the umbilicus with his teeth or between 
two stones and took him up from the ground in token of recognition. 
The mother or some close female relative performed the operation on 
female babies. The mother's brother took the baby girl in his arms, 
thereby claiming her as his future wife. After the baby was washed, 
its father or the midwife flattened its nose with the thumb, an operation 
repeated later during infancy by the mother. 

The father took to his hammock and lay in it for several days, receiv- 
ing the visits of his friends, who expressed their sympathy for his plight. 
The couvade lasted until the dry navel cord fell off. During this period 
the father had to refrain from eating meat, fish, and salt. Even after 
the confinement, he was not allowed to do any hard work lest he cause 
some harm to the infant. For a baby boy, claws of ferocious animals, 
a small bow and arrow, and a bundle of grass symbolizing his future 
enemies were attached to his little hammock, which was suspended be- 
tween two war clubs. A little girl was given capivara teeth to make 
her teeth hard, a gourd, and cotton garters. 

In the postnatal period, the father performed several magic rites to 
make the child successful during his life. Thus, he would have a male 
baby's sling caught in a trap as if it were some game. He would shoot 
at the sling with the miniature bow and arrows or throw a fishing net 
over it. When the navel cord was dry, he sliced it into small pieces and 
tied each to one of the main house posts so th^t the child would become 
the progenitor of a numerous family. If the father were absent or dead, 
the same rites were performed by the mother's brother or some close 
maternal relative. Food taboos were imposed on the mother during the 
same period. 

Naming. — The choice of a name, a serious matter, was discussed at a 
special meeting. Generally, the child received the name of an ancestor. 


a custom that is probably connected with the Tupinamba belief that chil- 
dren were reincarnated ancestors. 

Childhood. — Boys were gradually weaned at the age of 4 or 5 years 
(some authors say 6 to 7) and girls a year later. From early infancy 
children were given solid food in the form of maize, which the mother 
masticated into a pap and passed from her mouth into the baby's. Children, 
male and female, remained in close contact with their mothers until the 
age of 8. Little boys, meanwhile, were encouraged to practice archery 
and to train themselves for war and hunting. Early voyagers report 
unanimously that children, though never scolded, were well disciplined. 
Little is known about early education. To stop their babies from crying, 
mothers put cotton, feathers, or a piece of wood on their heads. To ac- 
celerate a child's growth, they rubbed it with their hands. Every morning 
one of the headmen went around the village scratching the legs of the 
children to make them obedient. Naughty children were threatened with 
the man with the scratcher. 

At the age of 4 or 5, young boys had their lower lips pierced for a 
labret. The operation was a festive occasion attended by the members of 
the community and inhabitants of other friendly villages. The child was 
expected not to flinch during the operation, thus showing his fortitude. 
Thereafter, boys tied up their prepuce with a cotton thread. 

Girls* puberty. — ^A girl underwent a series of severe ordeals at her 
first menstruation. With her head carefully shaven, she had to stand on 
a whetstone while geometric designs were cut on her back with a sharp 
rodent tooth. Ashes of a wild gourd rubbed in the wounds left indelible 
tattoo marks. This scarification had to be endured without crying. Then 
the girl lay in her hammock, concealed from sight, and observed a strict 
fast for 3 days. She must not touch the ground with her feet nor leave 
the hammock until her second menstruation. Meanwhile, if she had to 
go outside the hut, she was carried on her mother's shoulders. At her 
second menstruation, she received additional tattoo marks on the breasts, 
stomach, and buttocks. Henceforward, she might work but was not 
permitted to leave the house or to speak. Only after the third period was 
she free to go to the fields and resume her normal occupations. 

Adulthood. — After puberty, girls could indulge freely in sexual prac- 
tices until marriage. Any girl who lost her virginity had to break a 
string she wore around her waist and arms after her first menstruation. 
Premarital chastity was expected of a girl betrothed to a chief and brought 
up in his house from childhood. Chiefs' infant brides, however, might 
stay at home until coming of age. No young man could marry or even 
have sexual relations, according to Cardim (1939), before he had killed 
one or two prisoners, for the sons of a man who had not shed the blood 
of his enemies were thought to be cowardly and lazy. This restriction or 
a young man's sexual life could be obviated, perhaps long before he had 


been to war, if his father or uncle gave him a prisoner to sacrifice. Men 
married at about the age of 25. 

After 40 a man was an "elder" and did no hard work. He spoke in 
council. Very old men were respected and treated courteously. 

Death. — A sick person who seemed doomed to death was ignored and 
abandoned. But at the moment of his last breath his relatives surrounded 
him and displayed the most spectacular forms of grief. They threw them- 
selves on his body or on the ground and burst into tears. Ritual laments 
and shedding of tears were restricted to women, especially old women, and 
occasionally old men. The head of the extended family or the women of 
the long house praised the deceased by stressing his courage at war and his 
hunting or fishing skill. These funeral orations were interrupted by sighs 
and cries. 

In general, the Tupinamba were in such haste to bury their dead that 
often the dying man was still alive when placed in the earth (fig. 11, top). 
The grave was dug by the deceased's nearest male relatives. The corpse 
was wrapped in a hammock or tied by cords in a foetal position and 
squeezed into a big beer jar that was covered with a clay bowl. Some 
food was placed in the grave and a fire was built in its vicinity to keep bad 
spirits away. The head of a family was buried in the long house under 
the quarters he had occupied during life, but there were many exceptions 
to this rule, according to the age and preferences of the dead man. If 
the corpse were buried in the open, a small hut was erected upon the 
grave. Urn burial, though common, was not always practiced. When 
buried directly in the earth, the body was protected against direct contact 
with the soil by lining the grave walls with sticks. 

Female mourners cut their hair, whereas men let theirs grow on 
their shaven foreheads. Both sexes painted their bodies black with 
genipa. Mourning women wailed for many days after a burial and 
went at times to the grave to ask the whereabouts of the departed 
soul. Other women of the community who visited them assisted in 
their ritual laments. The mourning period lasted 1 to 6 months and 
was strictly observed by the parents, siblings, children, and wife of 
the deceased. No widow could remarry before her hair had reached 
the level of her eyes. Before resuming normal life, each mourner enter- 
tained his family and friends at a drinking bout with much singing and 
dancing, at which time widows and widowers cut their hair and painted 
themselves black. 

After death the souls of gallant warriors killed in battle or eaten by 
their enemies went to a beautiful land in the west where they enjoyed 
the company of the mythical "grandfather" and of their dead ancestors. 
They lived there happily and made merry forever. Access to this paradise 
was forbidden to cowards and to women, except the wives of renowned 



Figure n.—Tupinamba burial and cultivation. Top: Burial ceremonies within a pali- 
saded village. Bottom: Planting and harvesting of manioc. (After Staden, 1557.) 



Religious and social values of high importance clustered around war 
and the closely connected practice of cannibalism. Prestige and political 
power were derived mainly from the ritual slaughtering of prisoners, 
which was so far reaching in its influence that it even affected sexual 
life. The Tupinambafs excessive interest in ritual cannibalism contrib- 
uted toward keeping the different tribes and even local communities in a 
constant state of warfare and was one of the chief causes of their ready 
subjection by Europeans. Their mutual hatred of one another, born 
of a desire to avenge the insult of cannibalism, was so great that the 
Tupinamba groups always willingly marched with the White invaders 
against their local rivals. Their bellicose disposition and craving for 
human flesh loom large in many aspects of their culture, such as educa- 
tion, oratory, poetry, and religion. The rites and festivities that marked 
the execution of a prisoner and the consumption of his body were joyful 
events which provided these Indians with the opportunity for merry- 
making, esthetic displays, and other emotional outlets. 

The Tupinamba went to war only with the certainty of victory, which 
they derived from the interpretation of dreams and from ritualistic 
performances such as dancing and reciting charms. When marching 
toward the enemy, they paid special attention to any omen and to dreams. 
The slightest bad omen was sufficient to stop the expedition: once a 
party of warriors that had almost taken a village retreated because of a 
few words uttered by a parrot. 

Besides arrows and bows, Tupinamba weapons included a hardwood 
club with a shape unique in South America. It consisted of two parts : 
a long, rounded handle and a flattened, round, or oval blade with sharp 
edges. The only defensive weapon was a shield of tapir hide. Warriors 
donned their best feather ornaments and painted their bodies. Men of 
importance were followed by their wives, who carried hammocks and 
food for them. The advancing army was accompanied by musical in- 
struments. Whenever possible, they used canoes to avoid long marches. 
The chief always headed the column, which was disposed in one line. 
Scouts reconnoitered the country. At night the warriors camped near 
a river and built small huts in a row along a path. 

The proper time to assault the enemy village was chosen cautiously. 
As a rule, they stormed it at night or at dawn, when least expected. When 
prevented by a stockade from entering a village immediately, they built 
another palisade of thorny bushes around the village and started a siege. 
One tactic was to set fire to the enemy houses with incendiary arrows. 
Sometimes they slowly moved their fence close to the opposite wall so 
that they could fight at close range. 

The Tupinamba fought with courage and determination but without 
much order as they did not obey any command during the battle. They 


opened the attack by shooting arrows (fig. 12, left), hopping about with 
great agiHty from one spot to another to prevent the enemy from aiming 
or shooting at any definite individual. Amid ferocious howls, they 
rushed against their opponents to strike them with their clubs, trying to 
take prisoners, one of the main purposes of the war. Because it was 
difficult to seize an enemy without the assistance of several persons, it 
was an established rule that the prisoner belonged to the first man to 
touch him. When a man was disarmed, the victor touched him on the 
shoulder and said, "You are my prisoner." Thereafter, the man was 
his slave. Those who remained in possession of the battlefield would 
roast the corpses and bring back the heads and the sexual organs of the 

The long set of cannibalistic rites and practices began immediately 
after the capture of a prisoner. On the way home, the victorious party 
exhibited their captives in friendly villages, where they were subjected 
to "gross insults and vituperation." The latter retaliated by expressing 
their contempt for their victors and their pride at being eaten as befitted 
the brave. 

Before entering their masters' village, the prisoners were dressed as 
Tupinamba, with foreheads shaven, feathers glued to their bodies, and a 
decoration of feather ornaments. They were taken to the graves of the 
recently deceased of the community and compelled to "renew," that is, 
clean them. Later they received the hammocks, ornaments, and weapons 
of the dead, which had to be used before they could be reappropriated 
by the heirs. The reason for this custom was that touching the belong- 
ings of a dead relative was fraught with danger, unless they were first 
defiled by a captive. 

When the prisoners were taken into the village, women flocked around 
them, snatched them from the hands of the men, and accompanied them, 
celebrating their capture with songs, dances (fig. 12, right), and refer- 
ences to the day of their execution. They forced the prisoners to dance 
in front of the hut where the sacred rattles were kept. 

After this hostile reception, the prisoners' condition changed for the 
better. Their victors often gave them to a son or some other relative, 
who had the privilege of slaughtering them and acquiring new names — 
one of the greatest distinctions which a Tupinamba coveted. The pris- 
oners were also traded for feathers or other ornaments. In many cases, 
the only outward sign of the prisoner's status was a cotton rope tied 
around his neck, which, according to some sources, was a symbolical neck- 
lace strung with as many beads as he had months to live until his execution. 
The captives were in no way hampered in their movements; they knew 
perfectly well that there was no place to which they could escape, for 
their own groups, far from welcoming them, would even have killed 
any member who attempted to return. On the other hand, to be killed 

Vol. 3] 




ceremonially and then eaten was the fate for which any brave longed 
once he had lost his liberty. Nothing would have reminded a prisoner of 
his impending death if, on certain occasions, he had not been exhibited 
in public and again exposed to jeers and provocations. At drinking bouts, 
portions of his body were allotted beforehand to the carousers, each of 
whom — in the victim's presence — learned the part he was to receive at 
the ceremonial execution. 

The village council chose the date of execution and sent invitations to 
friendly communities. Preparations for the sacrifice started a long time 
in advance. Certain accessories, like the plaited rope with which the 
victim was fastened, required a long time to make. Great quantities of 
beer also had to be brewed for the occasion. 

The prisoner feigned indifference toward these signs of his threatening 
fate. In certain villages he was tied up, but then he indulged freely in 
all sorts of mischief to revenge his death. The rites observed in these 
cases started after the arrival of the guests and lasted 3 to 5 days. 

On the first day the cord was bleached and artfully knotted, the prisoner 
was painted black, green eggshells were pasted on his face, and red 
feathers were glued on his body. The executioners also decorated their 
own persons with feathers and paint. Old women spent the first night 
in the hut of the captive singing songs depicting his fate. On the second 
day they made a bonfire in the middle of the plaza, and men and women 
danced around the flames while the prisoner pelted them with anything 
he could reach. The only ceremony of the third day was a dance accom- 
panied by trumpets. The day before the execution the prisoner was given 
a chance to escape but was immediately pursued. The person who over- 
took and overpowered him in a wrestling combat adopted a new name, 
as did the ceremonial executioner. The ritual rope was passed round the 
prisoner's neck, the end being held by a woman. The prisoner was then 
given fruits or other missiles to throw at passers-by. Festivities began 
that night. The prisoner was often requested to dance. Apparently he 
did so without reluctance and took part in the general rejoicing as if he 
were merely a guest. He even regarded his position as enviable, for 
"it was an honor to die as a great warrior during dancing and drinking." 
The prisoner spent the remainder of his last night in a special hut under 
the surveillance of women, singing a song in which he foretold the ruin of 
his enemies and proclaimed his pride at dying as a warrior. His only 
food was a nut that prevented his bleeding too much. The same night the 
club to be used for the sacrifice received special treatment. It was deco- 
rated, like the prisoner himself, with green eggshells glued on the wood, 
the handle was trimmed with tassels and feathers (figs. 7, right; 9, right) 
and finally, it was suspended from the roof of a hut, women dancing and 
singing around it during the entire night (fig. 13, left). 

Vol. 3] 





The following morning the prisoner was dragged to the plaza by some 
old women amid cries, songs, and music. The rope was taken from his 
neck, passed round his waist, and held at both ends by two or more men 
(fig. 13, right). Again he was allowed to give vent to his feelings by 
throwing fruits or potsherds at his enemies. He was surrounded by 
women who vied in their insults. Old v/omen, painted black and red, with 
necklaces of human teeth, darted out of their huts carrying newly painted 
vases to receive the victim's blood and entrails. A fire was lit and the 
ceremonial club was shown to the captive. Every man present handled 
the club for a while, thus acquiring the power to catch a prisoner in the 
future. Then the executioner appeared in full array, painted and covered 
with a long feather cloak. He was followed by relatives who sang and 
beat drums. Their bodies, like that of the executioner, were smeared with 
white ashes. The club was handed to the executioner by a famous old 
warrior, who performed a few ritual gestures with it. Then the execu- 
tioner and his victim harangued each other. The executioner derided the 
prisoner for his imminent death, while the latter foretold the vengeance 
that his relatives would take and boasted of his past deeds. The captive 
showed despondency only if his executioner, instead of being an experi- 
enced warrior, was merely a young man who had never been on the 
battlefield. The execution itself was a cruel game. Enough liberty was 
allowed the prisoner to dodge the blows, and sometimes a club was put 
in his hands so that he could parry them without being able to strike. 
When at last he fell down, his skull shattered, everybody shouted and 
v/histled. The position of the body was interpreted as an omen for the 
executioner. The prisoner's wife shed a few tears over his body and then 
joined in the cannibalistic banquet. 

Old women rushed to drink the warm blood, and children were invited 
to dip their hands in it. Mothers would smear their nipples with blood so 
that even babies could have a taste of it. The body, cut into quarters, was 
roasted on a barbecue (fig. 14), and the old women, who were the most 
eager for human flesh, licked the grease running along the sticks. Some 
portions, reputed to be delicacies or sacred, such as the fingers or the 
grease around the liver or heart, were allotted to distinguished guests. 

As soon as the executioner had killed the victim, he had to run quickly 
to his hut, which he entered passing between the string and the stave 
of a stretched bow. Indoors he continued running to and fro as if 
escaping from his victim's ghost. Meanwhile his sisters and cousins 
went through the village proclaiming his new name. On this occasion, 
the male and female relatives of his generation also had to take new names. 
The members of the community then rushed into the killer's hut and 
looted all his goods, while the killer himself stood on wooden pestles, 
where the eye of his victim was shown to him and rubbed against his 
wrist. The lips of the dead man were sometimes given to him to wear 

Vol. 3] 



Figure 14. — Tupinamba cannibalism. (After Staden, 1557.) 


as a bracelet. However, his flesh was strictly taboo to the killer. After 
this the executioner had to recline in a hammock until the hair on his 
shaved forehead had grown again. During seclusion, he entertained him- 
self by shooting miniature arrows at a wax figure. For 3 days he might 
not walk but was carried whenever he needed to leave the hut. He also 
avoided several foods, especially condiments. His return to normal life 
was celebrated by a big drinking bout, at which the killer tattooed himself 
by slashing his body in different patterns with an agouti tooth — the more 
tattooing marks a man could exhibit the higher was his prestige. Even 
after the feast he was subject to a few more restrictions before he was 
again a full-fledged member of the community. 

The same rites were practiced if, instead of a man, a jaguar had been 
killed. Later, when the Tupinamba could no longer sacrifice their war 
prisoners, they would open the graves of their enemies and break the 
skulls with the same ceremonies. The heads of dead enemies were 
pinned to the ends of the stockade posts. 


Dances. — Ceremonial dances are described as a monotonous but ener- 
getic stamping on the ground by a group of men standing in a circle, with 
their bodies bent slightly downward and their hands hanging by their 
sides or laid on their buttocks. The dancers remained on the same spot, 
except for occasional steps forward and backward and for rotation. Some- 
times they shook their heads and made rhythmical gestures with their 
arms. Dancers were accompanied by songs, the time being marked by 
shaking rattles or jingling dry fruits that the dancers wore tied round their 
legs. The rhythm was also given by beating drums or by pounding the 
ground with a wooden tube. As a rule, men danced separately from 
women, whose movements are said to have been more violent and exag- 
gerated than those of the other sex. Profane dances were distinguished 
by a greater freedom of motion and by their orgiastic character. Men and 
women lost control of themselves, and their dances consisted of wild 
jumping and running to and fro. 

Songs. — Tupinamba songs have received much praise. Singers started 
softly and then gradually sang louder and louder. Cardim says. 

They keep among themselves differences of voices in their consort : and ordinarily 
the women sing the treble, the counter and tenor. [Cardim, 1939, p. 155.] 

The songs were started by a choirmaster who sang a couplet ; the refrain 
was repeated by the whole group. The words of these songs refer to 
mythical events, especially to wars and the heroic deeds of the ancestors. 
The numerous and graceful allusions to nature were similes. Good com- 
posers enjoyed such prestige that if taken prisoner they were released even 
by their bitterest enemies. 


Musical instruments. — When carousing or expressing strong feelings 
collectively, the Tupinamba blew trumpets or played flutes. The trumpets 
were conch shells with a perforated hole, or a wooden or bamboo tube, on 
one end of which a calabash served to amplify the sound. Flutes were 
made of bamboo or of the long bones of slain enemies. Drums, made of a 
piece of wood hollowed by fire, were small. Rattles have been mentioned 
above. The time of the dances was beaten with a stamping tube, a thick 
bamboo stick 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 m.) long that was pounded on the 
ground. On their feet the dancers wore jingles made of fruit shells of 
Thevetia ahouai (Metraux, 1928 a, pp. 214-217). 

Narcotics. — Smoking was one of the favorite pastimes in daily life as 
well as on ceremonial occasions. Tobacco leaves were dried in a hut, then 
wrapped in a leaf to form a huge cylindrical or conical cigarette. Long 
tubular bamboo pipes were used exclusively by shamans in magical per- 
formances. Stone pipes, found in several points of the Brazilian coast, 
perhaps belong to another culture anterior to that of the Tupi. 

Alcoholic beverages. — All social events were occasions for drinking 
bouts, at which great quantities of beer were consumed. The preparation 
of large amounts of fermented beverages for these feasts was a heavy task 
for the women, and was one reason for the polygyny of chiefs. Liquors 
were made from different plants : sweet manioc, maize, sweet potatoes, 
mangabeira {Hancornia speciosa), cashew, Jaboticaba {Myrciaria cauli- 
flora) , pineapples, bananas, and also beiju wafers and honey. Manioc beer, 
the favorite drink, was prepared as follows : The roots, cut into thin slices, 
were first boiled, then squeezed and partly chewed by young girls. The 
mass, impregnated with saliva, was mixed with water and heated again over 
the fire. The liquid was afterward poured into huge jars, half buried in the 
ground, covered with leaves, and left 2 or 3 days to ferment. A fire was 
built around the jars to warm the beverage before serving it. Each ex- 
tended family manufactured its own liquor. When a bout was organized, 
drinkers went successively to each hut, exhausting the available supply. 
The women served the liquors in huge calabashes. Old men and guests 
of honor were served first by the host's closest female relatives. Drinking 
was always the occasion for riotous merrymaking. Men and women, 
painted and covered with their more showy ornaments, danced, shouted, 
whistled, played musical instruments, talked excessively, and brawled. 
These orgies lasted for 3 or 4 days, during which nobody ate or slept much. 


Supernatural beings. — The supernatural powers, by whom the Tupi- 
namba felt themselves surrounded, may be classified into two groups : ( 1 ) 
individualized spirits, generally malevolent, which we may call demons or 
genii; (2) ghosts. The latter, by far the more numerous, differed from 
the former in having a much more impersonal nature. 


The demon of Thunder, Tupa, a secondary character in the early myth- 
ology, had as his main function to go "from east to west causing thunder, 
lightning, and rain." After White contact, this simple demon was pro- 
moted to the rank of the Christian God and as such still survives among the 
Tupi-spe3.king Mestizos. 

The bush was peopled by a number of greatly feared demons, who are 
still active in the folklore of modern Brazil. The most famous of these 
were Yurupari, Aiiaii, and Kuru-pira. Yurupari and Afiafi were syn- 
onyms, employed respectively by the northern and southern Tupinamba. 
Missionaries and travelers, however, often confused them with ordinary 
ghosts ; they either refer to them rightly as single demons or use these 
names collectively to designate the whole host of spirits. Just as Tupa 
was identified with God, Yurupari was equated to the Devil. The Caboclos 
of Brazil describe him as a goblin, an ogre that haunts the forests and is 
generally malicious. The same confusion arose about Aiiafi, who at one 
time is called a bush spirit and at another, some ghost. Kuru-pira, scarcely 
mentioned by the early sources, is the hero of countless tales among the 
present-day Tupi. He is depicted as a goblin with upturned feet, figures 
as the protector of game, and is rather ill-disposed toward mankind. Other 
spirits, such as Makashera, Uaiupia, Taguaigba, Igpupiara, and Mbae-tate 
(will-o'-the-wisp) , are scarcely alluded to in the literature. 

The world as conceived by the Tupinamba was the abode of innumerable 
ghosts who could be met everywhere, but especially in the woods, in all 
dark places, and in the neighborhood of graves. These supernatural 
beings were often harmful : they caused disease, droughts, and defeat. The 
Tupinamba often complained of being attacked and tormented by them. 
Some ghosts took the form of awe-inspiring animals, such as black birds, 
bats, and salamanders. Others, more tenuous, changed colors. These 
spirits were particularly obnoxious in the dark but could be driven away 
by the fire kept burning all night in Tupinamba quarters. No Indian 
would travel after sunset without a torch or a firebrand lest he be harmed 
by the evil spirits. So great was their fear of these that they even asked 
White people to settle in their village in order to keep the spirits in check. 

Ceremonialism. — Many details point to cults centering around the 
supernatural beings described above, who were symbolized by small posts 
sometimes provided with a cross bar from which painted images were 
suspended. Small offerings, such as feathers, flowers, or perhaps food, 
were deposited near them. Spirits were also represented by calabashes 
painted with human features. Such figures often appeared in the cere- 
monies of shamans, who burned tobacco leaves in them and inhaled the 
smoke to induce trances. Maize kernels were put in the mouths of these 
sacred effigies, which had movable jaws so as to imitate mastication. The 
grains thus consecrated were sown in the fields, and were expected to 
produce a good crop. The rattles (maracas), which were highly sacred 


objects profusely decorated with paintings and feather tufts, are difficult 
to differentiate from these idols. There is a single statement that seems to 
indicate that the Tupinamba also worshiped wax images kept in special 

Rattles were the accessories of all ceremonial activities (fig. 15), but 
seem to have been used only if previously consecrated by a shaman, who 
attracted a helpful spirit into them. Every year the villages were visited 
by shamans (called pay) endowed with power to cause all the rattling 
maracas chosen by them to speak and grow so powerful that they could 
grant whatever was required of them. All rattles were presented to the 
shamans, who conferred upon them the "power of speech" by fumigating 
them and uttering charms. Then the shamans exhorted the owners of the 
rattles to go to war and take prisoners to be devoured, for the "spirits in 
the rattles craved the flesh of captives." 

These rattles, after the ceremony, became sacred objects taboo to women. 
They were placed in a sort of temple and received offerings of food when 
asked to grant a favor. The spirits who had taken their abode in the rattles 
advised their owners and revealed future events to them. After a vic- 
torious expedition, they were thanked for their assistance. 

Shamanism. — The intermediaries between the community and the 
supernatural world were the shamans. All the chiefs or old men were 
more or less conversant with magic, but only those who had given some 
evidence of unusual power were regarded as real medicine men. Their 
reputation depended mainly on the accuracy of their prophecies and the 
success of their cures. Those who had achieved fame were known as 
karai or pay-wasu, "great medicine men." When a man was about to 
obtain great magical power, he would shun people, go into seclusion, fast, 
and then return to announce that he had come in close touch with the 
spirits. The shamans were rain makers, diviners, and, above all, healers. 
They had at their service a familiar spirit, sometimes in animal shape, 
who would follow them and even perform menial tasks for them. The 
medicine men relied on these spirits when requested to accomplish some 
difficult task, for instance, to gather rain clouds. They also consulted 
them as to the issue of some important enterprise or about distant events. 
The shaman sought interviews with the spirits after 9 days of continence, 
shutting himself up in a secluded cabin and drinking beer prepared by 
young virgins. Questions were asked the spirits by the community, but the 
"whistled" answers were given to the shamans. Some medicine men 
traveled to the land of the spirits, where they had long talks with the dead. 

Shamans as a rule were men, but a few women could prophesy after 
they had put themselves into a trance, and some old women, said to be 
possessed by spirits, practiced medicine. 

A shaman's breath was loaded with magic power that was greatly rein- 
forced with tobacco smoke. Often the shaman was asked to transfer part 



[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

of his "virtue" to the body of some cHent or disciple. Persons favored 
in that way started to tremble. General confessions of transgressions were 
imposed by shamans on women in circumstances that are not explained. 
Ritual lustrations also were performed by medicine men. 

Figure 15. — Tupinamba shamans wearing feather cloaks and carrying rattles. 
(After Metraux, 1928 a.) 

The shamans, once recognized as such, enjoyed considerable prestige, 
being addressed with respect even by chiefs. Wherever they traveled they 
were welcomed with fasts and rejoicing. They inspired such fear that 
nobody dared gainsay them or refuse their requests. Some shamans rose 
to political power, exercising unchallenged authority in their communities 
or even in large districts. 

Medicine. — To cure sick people, shamans resorted to the classic methods 
of sucking and blowing tobacco smoke over the body of the patient. They 
extracted objects considered the cause of the ailment. Female shamans 
removed the disease by sucking a thread which had been put in contact 
with the patient's body. Medicinal virtues were attributed to genipa paint, 
which was used freely for many diseases. Headaches and fevers were 
treated by scarification. Wounded people were stretched on a barbecue, 
under which a slow fire was lighted, and roasted until their wounds dried. 
A great many medicinal herbs are enumerated in early descriptions of 


the Brazilian coast, but it is stated only rarely whether the plants actually 
were used by the Indians for medical purposes, or whether they had been 
adopted by early European colonists, who were extremely eager to discover 
miraculous virtues in the Brazilian flora. 

Revivalism. — In the years that followed Portuguese colonization of 
Brazil, the Tupinamba were stirred by religious crises that have some 
analogy with the revivalistic or messianic movements occurring in other 
parts of the world, especially among some North American tribes. 
Prophets or messiahs arose among them promising a golden age in which 
digging sticks would till the soil by themselves and arrows would kill the 
game without intervention of hunters. The Indians were assured of im- 
mortality and eternal youth. The followers of the messiahs gave up their 
usual activities, dedicated themselves to constant dancing, and even started 
mass migrations to reach the mythical land of the culture hero. Several 
of the late Tupinamba migrations were caused by the urge to enter the 
promised land as soon as possible. The leaders of these religious move- 
ments were in many cases deified. Certain traits of their personality 
suggest that they represent a new type of wonder-worker, who had been 
influenced both by the early traditions of their tribes and by Christian ideas 
preached to the Indians by the Catholic missionaries. Similar crises oc- 
curred in modern times among the southern Tupi of Paraguay and Brazil. 
A comparison between the ancient and the modern messianic outbursts 
shows remarkable similarities. 

These beliefs were closely associated with the cosmology. The Tupi- 
namba established a correlation between the eclipses and the end of the 
world, which marked the beginning of a new era of peace and happiness. 
Whenever an eclipse occurred, the men chanted a hymn hailing the mythi- 
cal "grandfather," and the women and children moaned, throwing them- 
selves to the ground in the utmost despair. 


Important fragments of Tupinamba mythology have come down to us 
through the French friar, Andre Thevet (who visited Brazil in 1555). 
The main characters are represented by a set of culture heroes listed under 
the names of Monan, Maira-monan, Maira-pochy, Mairata, and Sume, all 
of which may well be synonyms for a single figure : the Tamoi or Mythical 
Grandfather. The culture hero, Monan, though an exalted creator, does 
not rank strictly as a god because he was not worshiped. Even his creative 
activities are not all-embracing ; he made "the sky, the earth, the birds, and 
the animals ; but neither the sea nor the clouds" nor, apparently, mankind. 
Closely associated with him was Maira-monan, who is probably the same 
Monan with the epithet Maira (Europeans were also called Maira). 
Thevet calls him the "Transformer" because he was fond of changing 


things according to his fancies. Maira-monan, described as a great medi- 
cine man living in seclusion and fasting, was a benefactor of mankind, 
on whom he bestowed agriculture. Tradition has it that he changed him- 
self into a child who, when beaten, dropped fruits and tubers. According 
to another version, he initiated a young girl into the practice of agriculture. 
As a lawgiver he introduced social organization and imposed severe taboos, 
including the prohibition of eating slow-moving animals. For unknown 
reasons, ungrateful people plotted his death and, after several unsuc- 
cessful attempts, burned him on a pyre. The bursting of his head origi- 
nated Thunder, and the fire of his pyre, Lightning. There is no doubt that 
Maira-monan and Sume, who is often mentioned as the originator of 
agriculture, are the same culture hero. Owing to a vague similarity of 
name, Sume was regarded by early missionaries as the fabulous apostle 
Saint Thomas (S. Tome), the supposed bringer of Christianity to the 
Indians long before the discovery of America. Petroglyphs or natural 
fissures in rocks suggesting footprints were attributed to Saint Thomas 
and were presented as evidence of his extensive travels. 

The twin cycle, so common in South American mythology, is closely 
connected with the personality of the culture hero, Maira. The main 
episodes of the myth are as follows: Maira deserts his wife, who is 
pregnant. She sets out in quest of her lost husband and is guided in her 
journey by the unborn child. Having been refused one of his requests, the 
child grows angry and remains silent. The mother is lost and arrives at 
the house of Sarigue (Opossum, subsequently a man), who sleeps with 
her and makes her pregnant with a second child. Continuing her search 
for her husband she is misled to the village of Jaguar (also a man), who 
kills her and throws the twins on a heap of rubbish. They are saved by 
a woman, who brings them up. They demonstrate their supernatural 
origin by growing very rapidly and feeding their foster mother abundant 
game. Remembering, or learning, that Jaguar and his people killed their 
mother, they take revenge by luring them to the sea and changing them 
into actual beasts of prey. Then they start again in search of their father. 
Finally, they find him, but he does not want to acknowledge them as his 
children before a trial of their origin. He orders them to accomplish 
difficult tasks. They shoot arrows into the sky and each arrow hits the 
butt of the other, thus forming a long chain. They pass between two 
constantly clashing and recoiling rocks. The twin begotten by Opossum 
is crushed to pieces, but his brother undergoes the ordeal successfully 
and brings him back to life. The same fate befalls Opossum's son when 
he tries to steal the bait of the demon Afiari, but again Maira's son 
revives him. After they have gone through these several ordeals, both are 
recognized by Maira as his children. 

There are two versions of the destruction of the world. The first cata- 
clysm which befell the earth was a big fire set by Monan, which he himself 


put out by flooding the universe. The flood explains the origin of the rivers 
and of the sea, which is still salty because of the ashes. 

Arikut and Tamendonar were brothers. The latter, a peaceful man, was 
gravely insulted by Arikut, who threw at him the arm of a victim he was 
devouring. Tamendonar caused a spring to flow so abundantly that the 
water covered the surface of the earth. Both brothers escaped and repopu- 
lated the universe. 

In the cosmogony collected by Thevet, a tale has been incorporated 
which was and is still very popular among South American Indians 
(Chiriguano, Mataco, Toba, Uro-Chipaya, Indians of Huarochiri). 
Maira-pochy (the bad Maira), a powerful medicine man or more probably 
the culture hero himself, appears in the village disguised as an indigent and 
dirty man. He makes the daughter of the village chief pregnant by giving 
her a fish to eat. Later, when all the most handsome men of the region 
vie with one another to be recognized as the father of the child, the baby 
hands Maira-pochy a bow and arrows, thus acknowledging him as his 
father. Maira-pochy shows his supernatural power by raising miraculous 
crops. He transforms his relatives-in-law into many diflferent animals. 


The division of time among the northern Tupinamba was based on the 
appearance and disappearance of the Pleiades above the horizon. The 
ripening of cashews was also used for reckoning time. Dates of 
future events were calculated with knots or beads on a cord. 

A complete list of the Tupinamba constellations has been recorded by 
Claude d'Abbeville. Most of them were named after animals. Eclipses 
were explained as attempts of a celestial jaguar (a red star) to devour 
the moon. 


Abbeville, 1614; Acuna, 1891; Anchieta, 1846, 1876-77; Ayrosa, 1943; Cardim, 
1939; Denis, 1851; Enformagao do Brazil, 1844; Fritz, 1922; Hoehne, 1937; Lery, 
1880 ; Magalhaes de Gandavo, 1922 ; Metraux, 1927, 1928 a, 1928 b ; Nieuhoff, 1682 ; 
Pinto, 1935-38; Rocha Pombo, 1905; Soares de Souza, 1851; Staden, 1928 (1557); 
Studart Filho, 1931 ; Thevet, 1575, 1878 (see also Metraux, 1928 b) ; Vaas de Cam- 
inha, 1812-13; Vasconcellos, 1865; Yves d'Evreux, 1864. For further Tupinamba 
references, see Metraux, 1927, 1928 a. 

By Curt Nimuendaju 


The Giiajd are called Wazaisara (wazai, an ornament of small tufts of 
feathers stuck with wax in the hair, plus zara, "owner") by the Guaja- 
jara and Tembe, and Aiaye by the Amanaye. Guajd is the Neo-Brazilian 
form of gwaza. 

The tribe is rarely mentioned in literature. In 1774, Ribeiro de Sampaio 
(1825, p. 8) mentions the Uaya among the tribes of the lower Tocantins. 
A list of the tribes existing in 1861 in the region along the road from 
Imperatriz to Belem mentions the Ayaya as "wild; very few of them 
are tame, but are timorous and therefore are pursued and killed by the 
others" (Marques, C. A., 1864). According to the report of F. C. de 
Araujo Brusque (1862, p. 12), the Uaiara (Guajard) at times appeared on 
the upper Gurupi River but did not have a fixed residence. 

The author obtained the following information among the Tenihe of 
the Gurupi in 1913-14 and among the Guajajara in 1929: 

The Guajd wandered without fixed living places through the jungles 
between the Capim and upper Gurupi Rivers and between the latter and 
the Pindare River, northward to about lat. 3° 40' S. (map 1, No. 1 ; see 
Volume 1, map 7). In 1910 or 1911 a small group of them committed small 
thefts in the fields at the mouth of the Gurupi Mirim River. The Tembe 
tracked them to the headwaters of the Gurupi Mirim. Although armed 
with powerful bows and arrows, the Guajd there surrendered meekly to 
their pursuers, who took them to the village. Here the captives soon 
died of intestinal ills attributed to the Tembe's cooked and seasoned food. 
The language of the two tribes was so similar that they understood each 
other with ease. In 1943, the botanist Ricardo Froes met a group of 
them on the upper Caru, a left tributary of the Pindare River. 


The Guajd did not have any agriculture whatever, but at times stole 
from the plantations of the Tembe, Guajajara, and Urubu. When caught, 
they were killed or at least beaten and imprisoned. 



The Guaja built only temporary shelters, or merely camped under 
trees, sleeping on leaf beds on the ground. 

Some Guaja bows and arrows were procured in 1913 by a punitive 
expedition against the then hostile Urubu Indians, who had massacred a 
Guaja camp. The weapons were carelessly made but were very large, 
the bamboo arrowheads being perhaps the largest known. 

In 1913, the Guaja still used stone axes. 

Brusque, 1862; Marques, C. A., 1864; Ribeiro de Sampaio, 1825. 



By Charles Wagley and Eduardo Galvao 


The Tripi-Guarani-speaking people of northeastern Brazil, commonly 
called Guajajara and Tembe, are generally mentioned in the literature 
as two independent tribes but are really a single group calling them- 
selves Tenetehara. By this name they distinguish themselves from the 
Urubu (also Tupi-Guarani) , the Timhira (Ge), and the Neo-Brazilians 
of the same region. 

The Guajajara-Tenetehara (map 1, No. 1 ; see Volume 1, map 7) 
inhabit the region drained by the Mearim, Grajau, and Pindare Rivers in 
the state of Maranhao (lat. 3°-5° S., long. 4°-6° W.) ; the Temhc- 
Tenetehara (map 1, No. 1; see Volume 1, map 7) live along the Gurupi, 
Guama, and Capim Rivers in the State of Para (lat. 2°-3° S., long. 7°- 
9° W.). The Guajajara-Tenetehara now number more than 2,000, but 
the Tembe-Tenetehara are estimated at only 350 to 400. For convenience, 
we shall refer to these people by the name they give themselves, Tenete- 
hara, rather than by the tribal names, Guajajara and Tembe, by which 
they are best known in the literature. No important differences of culture 
or language are known to exist between the Tembe-Tenetehara of the State 
of Para and the Guajajara-Tenetehara of the State of Maranhao. 

The region inhabited by the Tenetehara is dense tropical rain forest 
rich in hardwoods, rubber, copaiba {Copaifera sp.), and various palms, 
especially the babassu palm (Orbignya sp.), whose leaves and nuts are 
so important in Tenetehara economic life. There is little seasonal varia- 
tion in temperature in the region, yet there are two definite seasons: 
the rainy season lasting from December through June, and a dry season 
from July through November. 

The present summary is based on field work done by the authors 
for 5 months during 1941-42. 

* The field research on which this article is based was made possible by the Museu Nacional, Rio 
de Janeiro, Brazil. 




The Tenetehara seem to have inhabited this general region since pre-Columbian 
times, and they have been in contact with western culture in one form or another for 
more than 300 years. As early as 1615, an expedition led by La Ravardiere on the 
upper Pindare River encountered Indians whom he called Pinaricns and who were 
probably Tenetehara (Guajajara) (Metraux, 1928 a). One year later, Bento Maciel 
Parente speaks of killing many Tenetehara (Guajajara) when he traveled up the 
Pindare River with 45 Portuguese soldiers and 90 Indian followers (probably 
Tupinamha) in search of gold. 

In the middle 17th century, the Jesuits made three separate expeditions up the 
Pindare River for the purpose of bringing Tenetehara down the river and placing 
them in mission villages on the Island of Maranhao. Two expeditions, one led by 
Father Francisco Velloso and Father Jose Scares, and the second led by the Jesuit 
Superior, Manoel Nunes, in the middle of the 17th century, were partially successful 
and founded several mission villages on the lower Pindare, among them Itaquy. The 
third expedition, led by the Jesuit Jose Maria Garconi, returned with a large number 
of Tenetehara and placed them in the mission village called Cajupe on the lower 
Pindare. Later, however, when the Jesuits moved their mission village farther down 
river to Maracu (the present town of Vianna), the majority of these missionized 
Tenetehara returned to the upper Pindare in fear of their enemies, the Gamela. In 
consequence, the Jesuits established a new mission on the upper Pindare at the mouth 
of the Caru River. Besides these religious missions, however, it is probable thai 
the Tenetehara were in contact with Portuguese adventurers who wandered in this 
general region hunting Indians as slaves. 

By the middle 18th century, the Tenetehcra are mentioned as inhabiting also the 
Grajau and Mearim Rivers, west of the Pindare. At the same time Gustavo Dodt 
mentions them (Tetnbe) along the banks of the Gurupi River. In 1840 the pro- 
vincial government of Maranhao established the Colony of Sao Pedro do Pindare 
for the Indians of the region, with but little success. The Colony of Januario, estab- 
lished higher up the Pindare in 1854, was more successful, having a population of 120 
Tenetehara almost 20 years later. From the last half of the 19th century until the 
present, there has been a steady advance of Neo-Brazilians into Tenetehara territory, 
especially along the courses of the Mearim and Grajau Rivers. Except for several 
sporadic uprisings, the Tenetehara have always lived at peace with Neo-Brazilians, 
and there has been a mutual interchange of culture within the region. Today iron 
tools, clothes, myths of Iberian and African origin, and many other elements of 
frontier Neo-Brazilian culture are integrated elements in Tenetehara life. 


Farming. — Like the extinct coastal Tupi groups, the Tenetehara are 
extensive agriculturists. They cultivate principally maize, both bitter and 
sweet manioc, card, (Dioscorea sp.), squash, peanuts, beans, and bananas. 
At present, they also have large plantations of rice, which they raise pri- 
marily to sell to their Neo-Brazilian neighbors. 

Annually from July to November, great areas of forest are cleared for 
gardens, and the dry vegetation is burned toward the end of November. 
The gardens are planted throughout December. All Tenetehara use steel 
axes, hoes, and bush knives obtained by trade from Neo-Brazilians. 

Plate 13. — Tenetehara boys. Top: Boys dressed for puberty ceremony. 
Bottom, left: Boy decorated for puberty ceremony. His father led the song and 
his mother danced. Bottom, right: Portrait of young man. (Courtesy Charles 

Plate 14.— Tenelehara women and shaman. Top, Ujt: Girl just before puberty 
ceremony. Top, right: Woman and child. Bottom, left: Shaman possessed bv 
familiar spirit. Bottom, right: Shaman smoking long tobacco cigar and holding 
in his hand an object drawn from a sick patient. (Courtesy Charles Wagley.) 


Formerly, only women planted and harvested cotton and peanuts, 
while the cultivation of manioc, maize, and other plants was the exclusive 
occupation of the men. Today, however, men plant the entire garden, 
including cotton and peanuts, and women help now and again in light 
garden tasks. Similarly, the preparation of manioc flour and the carrying 
of drinking water were exclusively female tasks which a man would have 
been ashamed to perform; at present both sexes perform them equally. 

Gardens are said to be individually owned, yet most commonly an older 
man makes a garden aided by his real and adopted sons, his nephews, and 
his sons-in-law. The garden, while used by all in common, is said to be 
the individual property of the head of the family. 

Wild foods. — Hunting is practiced not only to add meat to a basically 
vegetarian diet, but also to collect animal skins for sale to Neo-Brazilian 
traders. Tapir {Tapirus terrestris), deer, both the white-lipped and col- 
lared peccary, monkeys, agouti {Dasyprocta, gen.), and various forest 
fowls are the principal animals hunted. Peccary hides bring especially 
good prices at Neo-Brazilian villages, and the Tenet ehara use the money 
to buy trade goods, such as clothes, salt, and gunpowder. 

Today the favorite means of hunting is with muzzle-loading shotguns. 
Yet, lacking money with which to buy guns, many men of each village still 
hunt with the bow and arrow. 

Fishing is done by ordinary hook and line acquired from Neo-Brazilians. 
Fishing by poisoning drying pools with timbo {Serjania sp.) is known 
but seldom practiced. 

Collecting babassii palm nuts and copaiba oil has acquired extreme im- 
portance in modern Tenetehara economic life, especially on the Mearim, 
Grajaii, and Pindare Rivers. These products, like rice and furs, can be 
sold in order to buy manufactured articles, such as clothes, guns, fish- 
hooks, and salt. 


At present, the Tenetehara houses in the Pindare and Grajau River 
regions have a rectangular floor plan with hip-roofs. Both walls and 
roofs are covered with babassii palm leaves. This house form is perhaps 
Neo-Brazilian, yet people do not remember any other type. In 1924 E. H. 
Snethlage (1931) found the Tenetehara houses on the middle Mearim 
River of the same type as those of the Neo-Brazilians of the region, and 
even in the last century, Gustavo Dodt described Tenetehara (Temhe) 
houses on the Gurupi River as straw-roofed with clay adobe walls (Dodt, 
1873, p. 194), definitely of Neo-Brazilian type. Snethlage speaks of 
houses covered with bark, but considered this type of roof temporary, 
explaining its use by the lack of palm leaves in certain districts. 

A village generally has two rows of houses with a wide street between 
them. Larger villages may have three, four, or more rows. The size of 

6S3333^t7— 12 


Tenetehara villages varies greatly. According to a recent census made by 
the Servigo de Protecgao aos Indios, the villages of the Pindare and 
Grajaii ranged from 35 to more than 800 persons each. Houses are 
generally occupied by a matrilineal extended family, although many hold 
only a simple family (man, wife, and young children). Extended family 
residences are not subdivided by inner walls, but each simple family uses 
a portion of the house space, having its separate cooking fire around 
which it hangs its sleeping hammocks. Gourds filled with drinking water, 
baskets with manioc flour, metal utensils, and other belongings are hung 
on the upright supports against the walls. Sometimes high platforms are 
made near the roof for the storage of maize, manioc, hides, farming instru- 
ments, etc. 

Snethlage (1931) saw a large ceremonial house, which was much larger 
than the dwellings in the village of Colonia on the Mearim River. It was 
situated at the end of the village street. On the Pindare River, the cere- 
monial house is no longer erected, but formerly it was built for the Honey 
Feast (see p. 146) and destroyed afterward. It seems to have been but 
a larger shelter without walls, in which both men and women danced. 


Formerly, the Tenetehara were nude. Men tied the prepuce over the 
glans penis with a piece of palm fiber (Lago, 1822, p. 85). Today they 
have adopted clothes from the Neo-Brazilians; women always wear skirts 
and men wear shirts and pants, only occasionally stripping down to a loin- 
cloth for heavy work in the gardens. It is now a matter of prestige to 
have new or better clothes than other people. 


Basketry. — Basketry is still woven by the Tenetehara, especially in the 
villages of the upper Pindare River. A split flexible creeper is used prin- 
cipally. Round sieves for straining manioc flour, square baskets with 
woven geometric designs, and the flexible tipiti for squeezing the poisonous 
juice from bitter manioc are the most common objects of this class. 

Weaving. — Native cotton is used almost entirely for string hammocks. 
The string is wound horizontally around two vertical posts driven into the 
ground ; double vertical strands are twined at a distance of about 21/2 inches 
(7.5 cm.) apart. 

Gourds. — Eating utensils are made from round gourds. The gourds 
are first boiled, then allowed to dry thoroughly, cut in half, and the in- 
terior mass scraped out. The interior is stained black with genipa and 
frequently the outside is decorated geometrically with incisions or lines of 
black genipa dye. Frequently, only a hole is cut in a gourd, and it is used 
as a jug for drinking water or wild honey. 


Ceramics. — The pottery which Snethlage noted in 1924 (Snethlage, 
1931) was simple and generally undecorated, but some vessels had incised 

Today pottery making has been completely abandoned, at least on the 
Pindare and Grajau Rivers. The Tenctehara use metal utensils purchased 
from Neo-Brazilians. 

Weapons. — Bows average 3 feet (1 m.) in length; the belly is convex, 
the inside flat. Bows are generally made of pau d'arco wood (Tecoma 
conspicua), and the bowstring of twined tucum (Bactris sp.) fibers. 
Arrows are comparatively short, averaging only about 3 feet (1 m.) in 
length. Nowadays they have steel points made from old bush knives and 
bits of metal purchased from Neo-Brazilians and worked cold. Arrow 
shafts are of reed (Gynerium sagittatum, a grass). 


Each Tenetehara village is politically autonomous. Inter-village rela- 
tions are maintained by means of visits for ceremonials and for trade, and 
by intermarriages. 

Since the time of the Jesuits, each village has had a secular chief (capitao 
in Portuguese) appointed by some authority outside the tribe (e.g., Jesuit 
missionaries, the Colonial, Imperial, and Republican Governments, and at 
present the Servi^o de Protecgao aos Indios). In general, this chief is only 
an intermediary between the Indians and the Neo-Brazilians. He is gener- 
ally but one of several leaders or heads of the extended families which 
make up a village. However, the respect that he is accorded by outsiders 
frequently increases his prestige in the eyes of the villagers. 

Each family leader unites about him a large number of kin, either in 
his own house or in contiguous houses. He may have several young men 
living with him whom he calls "son" and as many young women whom 
he calls "daughter" (own daughters, real or classificatory brother's 
daughter, or wife's real or classificatory sister's daughter) as possible. 
Because marriage is matrilocal and sons-in-law must work in the gardens 
of their fathers-in-law at least for a year or two, these "daughters" attract 
followers for the family leader. According to his individual capacity, the 
family leader attracts large extended families more or less permanently 
around him. 

Extended family groups cooperatively plant large gardens. Frequently, 
the leader sells all marketable products, such as skins, rice, and babassu, 
produced by the entire group, and proportions the results of the sales 
among the individual families. A village generally has four, five, or 
more extended families and their leaders, who while not constituting a 
formal village council, ultimately decide public questions. 



Childbirth. — During his wife's pregnancy, a Tenetehara man must 
observe elaborate restrictions in his diet and in his hunting activities. He 
may not kill or eat jaguars, falcons (Fakonoidea), ant eaters (Tamandua 
tetradactyla) , wildcats, parrots, or various other animals and forest fowls. 
The purpose of these taboos is to protect the fetus from the "spirit" of 
the animal killed or eaten. This "spirit" (piwara) enters the unborn child, 
either causing physical abnormalities or giving it some undesirable attribute 
of the animal. For example, the spirit of the enormous beaked toucan 
(Ramphastos toco) may cause the child to be born with a large nose; 
the father who kills a jaguar during his wife's pregnancy may expect to 
have an insane child. 

A new series of taboos begins for both parents at childbirth. Sexual 
relations are prohibited for parents until the "child is hard," that is, until 
it begins to have some control over its muscles, 5 or 6 months after the 
birth. For a week to 10 days, both parents may eat only manioc flour, 
small fish, and roast maize, and must drink only warmed water. Until 
the child is weaned, certain meats, such as macaw, white-lipped peccary, 
and tapir are forbidden to both parents. Breaking any of these taboos 
arrests the development of the infant and may cause its death. 

Puberty. — Formerly, adolescents of both sexes were isolated for 10 days 
or more in separate huts built especially for the occasion. On the 10th 
morning, entrails of the agouti were stretched across the door of the hut, 
and the adolescent had to break these in order to leave. Today boys are 
seldom isolated at all before their puberty ceremony, and girls may be 
isolated only by a palm-leaf screen within the family dwelling or they may 
simply lie in their hammocks in one corner of the room. Even today the 
girl ends her isolation by breaking the entrails of the agouti stretched 
across the door, and is chased by the young men of the village when she 
runs to the stream or pool for a bath. 

Formerly, a father examined his son's penis after the isolation period, 
and, if there were signs of masturbation, the boy was whipped with a vine 

The puberty ceremony is for both sexes (see pis. 13, 14). Boys are 
painted red with genipa, and falcon breast feathers are glued on their 
breasts and arms (pi. 13). Frequently, the boys carry a wand consisting 
of about 30 to 40 tail feathers from the red macaw stuck into a wooden 
handle. Girls are simply painted black over their entire bodies and some- 
times white falcon breast feathers are glued to their hair. 

The puberty ceremony begins at dawn and lasts 24 hours. It consists 
mainly of general singing and dancing led by the grandfather of one of 
the adolescents. Shamans play an important role, calling their familiar 
spirits and falling into trances under the influence of the spirits (see 
p. 147). At dawn, after the night of group singing everyone feasts on 


large quantities of meat, the result of hunting during previous days by all 
men of the village. At this time the young people are formally given 
permission to eat of such meats as peccary, guariba monkey, wild goose, 
and various forest fowls, all of which until now were prohibited to them. 
Because of this feast, the Neo-Brazilians of the region call the Tenetehara 
puberty ceremony the Festival of Roasted Meat (Festa de Moqueado). 

Marriage. — Marriage takes two general forms : Frequently, a young 
man marries a preadolescent girl, moving to her parents' house and waiting 
until after her puberty ceremony to consummate the marriage ; or a girl's 
father finds her a husband after her puberty ceremony. In either case, 
residence for the couple is matrilocal for at least a year after sexual rela- 
tions begin and generally until the birth of a child. There seem not to be 
any special marriage ceremonies. After becoming a parent, a young man 
of initiative may break away from his father-in-law and set up his own 

Monogamy is the general rule, yet there are cases of family leaders with 
two and even three wives. In such cases, the wives are usually close rela- 
tives; in several instances, they were a widow and her daughter by a 
previous marriage. 

Death. — Antonio Pereira do Lago, writing in the 19th century, reports 
that the Tenetehara buried their dead in the family dwelling, and that the 
house was destroyed when a second death occurred. At present, burial is 
in a cemetery, always just outside the village; the body is wrapped in a 
mat made of babassu palm (Orbignya sp.) leaves, or it may be placed in 
a wooden box similar to that used by local Neo-Brazilians. A low roofed 
shelter is frequently built over the grave ; such grave shelters were noted 
by Dodt on the Gurupi in the last century. 


Art. — Native art forms are represented today only by a few items, such 
as decorated basketwork, incised and painted gourd receptacles, and 
feather head bands. Wands are made by sticking innumerable tail feathers 
of the red macaw into a wooden handle. 

Music. — The Tenetehara are very fond of music. They have not only 
retained their native music, but have borrowed the Neo-Brazilian music 
of the region. Singing native songs, however, is still the most popular 
pastime and the outstanding esthetic of the Tenetehara. There are fre- 
quent informal reunions called zingarete (to sing much) in the evenings 
throughout the year, when people sing secular songs for recreation. Such 
songs last for the greater part of the night, people leaving and joining the 
group from time to time. Ceremonies are basically singing festivals and 
each has its particular set of songs. To sing such ceremonial songs out 
of season would bring supernatural reprisal. The songs of the Honey 


Festival are considered the most beautiful by the Tenetehara. They are 
believed to have been learned in mythological times by a young Tenetehara 
shaman when he visited a festival of the animals at the Village of the 
Jaguar; the songs are those sung by individual animals on that occasion. 

Shamans are obliged to have a large repertoire of songs; a group of 
songs is attributed to each supernatural being, and the shaman must know 
those of his familiar spirits. A good voice is a prerequisite for shamanism. 
At shamanistic sessions (p. 147), the shaman sings as he "calls" the 
spirit, and the spirit sings through him after he is possessed (pi. 14, bottom, 
left) ; the audience joins the shaman in the refrain of the songs. Shaman- 
istic sessions are well attended, because they give people a chance to come 
together to sing. 

In all group singing both men and women sing, the latter in a higher 
key, much as among the Tapirape and as described for the Tupinamba. 

Musical instruments. — Gourd rattles always accompany singing, but 
they are not sacred, as among the coastal Tupi. A trumpet with a bamboo 
stem and a cow's horn resonator is used during the Honey Festival ; during 
aboriginal times, a gourd resonator was used in place of the cow's horn. 

Dancing". — Frequently, during informal singing, the Tenetehara keep 
time to the music by stamping with one foot on the ground. During lively 
shamanistic sessions and during ceremonies, both sexes dance. Com- 
monly, they simply stamp in one spot, with a heavy beat on one foot. 
During the Maize Festival, they move in a large circle with a skipping 
step ; on other occasions, a line of men faces a line of women and the two 
lines advance and retreat from each other. A possessed shaman dances 
in a manner indicative of the supernatural possessing him ; for example, 
when possessed by the guariba monkey spirit, he postures in imitation of 
the monkey, and when possessed by the toad spirit, he hops about like 
a toad. 

The Tenetehara also frequently hold Neo-Brazilian dances, when men 
and women dance in couples to waltzes, "sambas," and local folk tunes. 
For these dances, many young Tenetehara have learned to play bamboo 
flutes and skin drums. Sometimes a Neo-Brazilian is hired to play the 
accordion for dancing. 

Games. — No aboriginal games were noted among the Tenetehara. Boys 
play tops and marbles in the same manner as the Neo-Brazilian children 
of the region. 

Narcotics.-— Hashish (Cannabis indica) , or diamba, as it is called 
locally, is in widespread use in the region of the Pindare, Mearim, and 
Grajau Rivers, both by the Tenetehara and Neo-Brazilians. On the 
Pindare River, it is used in long cigarettes made from leaves of the plant 
rolled in a thin sheet of bark of tawari tree (Couratari sp.). 

Native tobacco plays an important role in Tenetehara religious life, 
being used by the shamans in the treatment of illness and in all their 


other activities (pi. 14, bottom, right). It is smoked in long funnellike 
cigars, about 12 inches (30 cm.) long, wrapped in cane bark. Smoking 
of tobacco or hashish is also a general pastime. 

There are no indications that the Tenetehara have known any alcoholic 
beverages other than those which they now purchase from the Neo- 


Tenetehara supernatural beings (karowara, their generic name) may 
be conveniently divided into three groups : culture heroes, forest spirits, 
and ghosts, the last being spirits of the dead and spirits of animals. All 
except the culture heroes are malignant and make the world so generally 
dangerous that the Indians must constantly have recourse to their shamans 
for protection. 

Culture heroes. — Teiietehara culture heroes are not active supernatural 
beings in their modern relations to manldnd, but in myths they are culture 
bringers and creators. (See Mythology, p. 147.) Among them, Maira 
and Tupan are the principal creators of culture. It is quite possible, 
however, that the importance of Tupan has been overemphasized by mis- 
sionaries who identified him throughout Brazil with the Christian God. 
Tupan was simply the "demon of Thunder" among the coastal Tupi 
(Metraux, 1928 b). 

Forest spirits. — Maranaiiwa is the owner of the forest and of the 
animals inhabiting it, especially of white-lipped peccaries, and he punishes 
Tenetehara men who needlessly and wantonly kill this species. Maranaiiwa 
may be identified as Corropira or Kuri-pira of other Tupi groups and of 
Neo-Brazilian folklore. 

Uwan, the spirit which controls the rivers and water life, is given two 
other descriptive names: tJpore (ii, water; pore, inhabitant) and tlzare 
(ii, water; zare, owner). This supernatural being is identified by local 
Neo-Brazilians as the "Mother of Water," a character of Brazilian folk- 
lore, tjwan is described by the Tenetehara as a spirit who is always 
malignant, and who causes illness. 

Zurupari is a forest demon which attracts hunters and leads them astray 
until they are lost and then kills them. This spirit corresponds to 
Yurupari, or Zurupari, of Neo-Brazilian folklore. 

Ghosts. — Wandering ghosts (azang) are the souls of people who died 
from sorcery, who broke incest taboos during their life, or who died by 
slowly wasting away. The modern Tenetehara explain that the souls of 
people who die by other means go to the "home of Tupan," a Christian 

The azang wander through the forests or near the cemeteries and 
abandoned houses. They can transform themselves into animals which 
appear to hunters, frightening them and causing them to lose arrows shot 


at them by mistake. The Tenetehara are very frightened of azang, espe- 
cially at night ; they always avoid passing near a cemetery or an abandoned 

The spirits of dead animals (piwara) mainly enforce restrictions on 
diet and on hunting, such as those imposed upon a man during his wife's 
pregnancy and his child's early infancy and upon preadolescent children. 
If a father of a young child, for example, kills a macaw, the spirit of the 
macaw may make the child ill if he is not treated by a shaman sufficiently 
strong to control this spirit. Deer, monkeys, forest fowls, toads, tapirs, 
and many other animals have such spirits. 


Besides the puberty rites, two ceremonies are still held by the Tenetehara 
of the Pindare and Grajau River region: The Honey Festival (zemuci- 
hawo and the Maize Festival (awaciwahuhawo). The first takes place 
during the dry season, and the second accompanies the growth of maize 
during the rains from January through March. The Maize Festival is 
basically a song feast and dance, which provides a background for shaman- 
istic performances. Shamans invoke their familiar spirits in order to 
protect the growing maize. 

The Honey Festival takes place during the last days of the dry season 
and lasts but a few days. Preparations for it, however, require months, 
because the Tenetehara must collect wild honey for it throughout the 
dry season. Generally, 20 to 30 gourd containers, each holding one to 
two liters of honey, must be filled. Each night or so during these months, 
the people of the village gather and sing "to bless the honey." Formerly, 
the containers of honey were hung to the rafters of a special ceremonial 
house built for the occasion ; nowadays, they are stored in any available 
empty house. When sufficient honey has been collected, the leader of the 
ceremony sends out invitations to nearby villages. During the ceremony, 
the Tenetehara dance in a large circle. The songs refer to the original 
honey feast held by animals in mythical times (Nimuendaju, 1915). 
The honey is mixed with water and consumed by the dancers; when the 
honey is gone, the ceremony terminates. 


In spite of more than 300 years of sporadic contact with missionaries, 
shamanism continues to be a very active element of Tenetehara religious 
life. In fact, with the decline of native ceremonial life under Neo-Brazilian 
influence, the activities of the shamans (paze) absorb most of modern 
Tenetehara religious activity. Like the Tupinamba shaman, pay, the 
Tenetehara paze is a man of great prestige in his community. At present, 
each village has no less than two or three shamans and some large villages 


have six or seven; in addition, numerous young men are learning the 
art. There are few Tenetehara who do not attempt during their youth 
to become shamans. 

Tenetehara shamans cure illness by removing the disease-causing objects 
through sucking or massaging (pi. 14, bottom, right). During the cure, 
the shaman dances and sings, beating time with a rattle and calling his 
familiar spirits. Men and women of the village join him in the chorus. 
Now and again, he gulps and swallows smoke from his large tubular 
cigar, eventually becoming definitely intoxicated. Suddenly, he staggers 
backward, grasping his chest to show that his spirit has possessed him. 
A shaman must be able "to call" (be possessed by) the same piwara, 
or spirit, that has caused the illness in order to be able to extract the 
object. He approaches the patient and sucks or massages out the 
extraneous object (iimae), i. e., a piece of stone, bone, or wood. 

A shaman shows by his actions which spirit has possessed him (pi. 14, 
bottom, left). If it is a deer spirit (aropoha piwara), he may eat manioc 
leaves; if ghosts (azang), he drinks uncooked tapioca flour mixed with 
water; and if any familiar spirit, he frequently rubs the lighted end 
of his cigar over his bare chest and arms without being burned. Several 
informants told of Tenetehara shamans who swallow burning coals from 
a fire while possessed by the spirit of the kururu toad {Bufo sp.). Sneth- 
lage (1927, p. 132) also observed this. On occasions, the familiar spirit 
is "too strong" for a shaman, and he falls unconscious, remaining extended 
upon the ground for an hour or more until the spirit leaves him. 

The power of a Tenetehara shaman depends upon the number of 
familiar spirits he can "call." Commonly, shamans have five or six 
such familiar spirits. Because iiwan, the owner of water, frequently 
causes illness, this spirit is most frequently called in cures. At present, 
on the Pindare River, there are no shamans who count among their 
familiar spirits the toad spirit (kurura piwara), the forest demon, 
Maranaiiwa, or the jaguar spirit (zawara piwara) . So powerful are these 
three spirits that no modern shamans dare "call" them. A shaman 
spends many years learning "to call" his various familiar spirits by 
singing and acquiring the power to withstand them when possessed. He 
sometimes visits many villages to learn from other shzunans and to acquire 
a larger number of familiar spirits. 


In Tenetehara mythology, two culture heroes stand out, Tupan and 
Maira. The figure of Tupan has probably been emphasized by missionary 
influence; he appears as a creator and protector. Maira, however, is 
clearly a native culture creator. He is the donor of fire, which he stole 
from the vultures, hiding it in a stick of urucu wood so that the Tenete- 
hara might use this soft wood to make fire. Maira also brought manioc 


and maize to the Tenet ehara. Maira was the father of the Maira-iira, 
who was born after his father had abandoned his mother. While wander- 
ing in search of Maira, her husband, this woman conceived a second 
time when she stayed one night in the house of Mukwiira. From these 
two unions were born the twins Maira-iira (ura, son) and Mukwiira- 
iira. A detailed myth is told of the adventures of these twins in their 
search for Maira. 

The Tenetehara also tell various cycles of animal stories. One cycle 
deals with the difficulties of the Gamba (Didelphis sp.) in arranging a 
satisfactory husband for his daughter and of how he is followed when 
trying to imitate the various animals. For example, the girl marries 
the wood tick, and Gamba, dissatisfied with his new son-in-law, tries to 
imitate the wood tick by floating to the ground on a leaf from a tree 
top, but falls hard to the earth. There is also a long cycle in which 
the tortoise has a trickster role. Other stories recount the Rolling Head 
and the Festival of the Animals. Modern Tenetehara legends include a 
large series that are of Iberian and Africo-Brazilian origin. 


Barbosa Rodngues, 1872; Bettendorf, 1910; Dodt, 1873; Froes Abreu, 1931; Kis- 
senberth, 1912; Lago, 1822; Lopes, 1934; Marques, C. A., 1870; Metraux, 1928 a. 
1928 b; Moraes, 1860; Nimuendaju, 1915; Plagge, 1857; Ribeiro, 1841; Leite, 1943; 
Snethlage, E. H., 1927, 1931 a ; Wagley, 1942, 1943 a. 


By Betty J, Meggers 


The Amazon has its source in the Andes close to the Pacific and flows 
northeast 4,000 miles to empty into the Atlantic at the Equator. A dozen 
large tributaries flow into it at intervals, draining four-tenths of the con- 
tinent. At the mouth of the Rio Negro the valley is about 200 miles wide, 
but between the Tapajoz and Xingii Rivers it narrows to 50 or less. Below 
and above these points the uplands retreat sharply from the river and the 
valley widens abruptly. Above the Madeira River the forests are just out 
of water and are inundated long before the river attains its maximum flood 
level. The natural vegetation of the valley and the uplands is selva, except 
for scattered savanna lands north of the river and on the Island of Marajo. 

In this immense area archeology has made little progress. Here there 
are none of the large imperishable buildings which mark sites of former 
human habitation for the archeologist in Peru, and the virgin forest 
effectively obscures all lesser clues on the surface. The discovery of a site 
often a,waits an accident such as occurred at Santarem when a cloudburst 
washed out the streets and revealed quantities of pottery. In the more 
open country on Marajo Island and in the Mojos area of Bolivia, the 
existence of mounds makes the task somewhat easier. 

Stone is scarce in most of the valley and was not a major item in the 
material culture. Few stone tools, mainly polished axes and celts, have 
been recovered. The perishable objects which took their place have not 
survived. Metal tools are rare and were acquired by trade from the 
Andes and later from the Europeans. As a result, pottery is almost all 
that the archeologist can hope to find. 

Attempts have been made to link the archeological remains with known 
Indian groups. Many of the earlier writers attributed the elaborate 
pottery to the Carih, whose presence had been recorded along the lower 
Amazon. The tendency of the later writers has been to favor the Arawak, 
whose high cultural level and widespread migrations are offered as an 
explanation for the similarities noted from southern Brazil to the Antilles. 
The question has not yet been settled to the satisfaction of all, however. 




The written sources leave much to be desired. The early work was done 
largely by men trained in other fields, and it is difficult to know what 
reliance to place upon their conclusions. The more recent publications 
are for the most part general summaries or descriptions of collections in 
museums. An exception is Linne (1928 b), who describes some of the 
sites excavated by Nimuendaju in Northeast Brazil. Except for 
Palmatary on Santarem, Metraux on the Upper Amazon, and Goeldi on 
Cunany, the following sources deal mainly with Mara jo : Angyone Costa 
(1934), Farabee (1921 a), Goeldi (1900), Hartt (1871, 1876, 1885), 
Holdridge (1939), Joyce (1912), Lange (1914), Linne), (1925, 1928 a, 
1928b), Metraux (1930a), Mordini (1934), Netto (1885), Nordenskiold 
(1930 a), Palmatary (1939), Penna (1877-78), Steere (1927), Torres, 
H. A. (1929, 1930, 1940), and Uhle, M. (1923). 

The largest and most representative museum collections of Amazon 
pottery are in the Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Belem, Brazil; the 
Ethnographical Museum, Goteborg, Sweden ; and the University of Penn- 
sylvania Museum, Philadelphia, Pa. The Musee du Trocadero, Paris, has 
a collection from the Middle Amazon, and the American Museum of 
Natural History in New York one from Pacoval on Marajo Island. 


In this article, the Amazon has been divided for convenience into four 
areas: Marajo Island, Northeast Brazil, the Santarem region, and the 
Middle Amazon. The sites in Northeast Brazil (map 2) — Caviana, 
Maraca, and Cunany — ^have been grouped together on the basis of a few 
traits which they have in common and by which they differ from Marajo 
and Santarem. These are the absence of mounds, with the burial urns 
placed directly in the ground or in caves, the presence of anthropomorphic 
funerary urns, the interment of two or more individuals in a single urn, 
and similarities in the pottery. The urns from these sites show very 
marked differences in form and detail which indicate the maintenance of 
distinct local styles in spite of close areal proximity and contemporaneity. 

Marajo Island is characterized by the presence of mounds containing 
burial urns and domestic pottery including tangas, and by a distinctive 
style of decoration in which painted and incised designs are prominent. 
At Santarem, both mounds and burial urns are absent. Vessels of unusual 
shapes, often resting on caryatids and ornamented with bird and animal 
figures in full round, are characteristic. 

A hundred and fifty miles up the Tapajoz River and above the Serra de 
Parintins on the Amazon, burial urns again appear. The latter area, which 
we have called the Middle Amazon, includes sites at Miracanguera, 
Manaos, and Teffe. This area is little known and no accounts of exca- 


vations have been published. A comparison of two anthropomorphic urns 
from sites in the area over 500 miles apart shows a similarity in style. 
Other fragments are reminiscent of Santarem and Mara jo. The upper 
reaches of the Amazon are virtually unknown archeologically. 

The general culture-subsistence pattern for the Amazonian area was 
probably quite uniform. Agriculture was supplemented by hunting, fish- 
ing, and gathering. The high development of the ceramic art, as well 
as the amount of labor which would have been required to build the stone 
walls along the coast and the mounds on Marajo, presupposes relatively 
large communities and indicates an economic and social organization ad- 
vanced enough to permit the expenditure of large amounts of time and 
effort on projects unprofitable from the point of view of subsistence. The 
presence of greenstone objects on Marajo believed to originate from some- 
where in the vicinity of Obidos is evidence of widespread trade connections. 
Early explorers on the Amazon reported that the pottery of Santarem 
was an important item of barter, and the discovery of a clay bird head 
on the Island of Carriacou in the Antilles identical with those found at 
Santarem substantiates their statements. The stone works along the coast 
are presumed to be evidence that an advanced type of religion was prac- 
ticed there. 

Chronological relationships are uncertain. At Caviana and Maraca 
objects of European origin have been found in association with the pottery, 
indicating that these cultures were flourishing in post-Columbian times. 
Cunany is also dated as contemporary with the Conquest. At Carao on 
the Mayacare, however, no objects of European origin or showing Euro- 
pean influence have been discovered. Although no objects of European 
manufacture have been found on Marajo, the reports of travelers on the 
lower Amazon in the 17th century indicate that fine pottery was still being 
made there at that time. Nordenskiold (1930 a, pp. 33-34) has suggested 
the possibility of arriving at a chronology by comparison with the Andean 
area, where a relatively precise time sequence has been established. The 
extension of this method to the Amazon cultures, however, awaits de- 
tailed study of the whole region. At present, it is impossible to say what 
the actual relationships are. 

The pottery from Santarem presents a problem because it differs so 
markedly from that in the rest of the valley. It approaches the pottery 
of the Antilles in some respects, and the use of the caryatid, of the tripod, 
and of frogs in jumping position as ornaments are characteristics rem- 
iniscent of Central America. 

The descriptions given in this account must be recognized as tentative 
and incomplete. A description of the archeology of the Amazon is largely 
a story of problems unsolved and work still to be done. To date, this area 
has attracted the interest of few trained archeologists. The written sources 
offer few details of the sites and circumstances of discovery of the pottery, 


and even these are often contradictory. Another difficulty is that the 
Amazon Valley has never been mapped in detail. As a result many of 
the places referred to in the early literature cannot be found on a map. 
The pottery in museum collections is not accompanied by any information 
about its excavation and, although attempts have been made to draw con- 
clusions from its study, much more could be gained by a few sessions in 
the field. Nimuendaju has engaged in some explorations in recent years, 
and the publication of his findings should contribute substantially to our 


Mounds. — Since 1870, Marajo Island has been the classic spot in 
Amazon archeology. Located in the mouth of the river just south of the 
Equator, it has an area of 14,000 square miles and an elevation of about 
3 feet (1 m.) above river level in the dry season. At this time of the year 
all but a few of the larger rivers are dry and water is scarce. The opposite 
situation occurs in the wet season, when the greater part of the island is 
flooded. The north central section is rendered uninhabitable by the pres- 
ence of immense swamps. In the west are dense forests. Across most 
of the remainder of the island stretch the level campos, broken here and 
there by clumps of trees and by artificial mounds. 

These mounds have proved a fertile field for the archeologist. More 
than 100 are known, and these are usually located on river banks or at 
the edges of lakes or swamps. Some were evidently used only as dwell- 
ing sites. Others served both as house substructures and for burial pur- 
poses. It has not been determined whether any were used exclusively 
for burial. Although these mounds have long been known, few of them 
have been located on a map or described in any detail. None have been 
scientifically excavated. No conclusions have been reached about their 
relative age. There is disagreement as to whether or not stratification is 
present. Opinion is also divided on the question of intentional zoomorphic 

The most famous of the mounds is Pacoval in Lake Arari. It was first 
described by Hartt in 1871, and since then it has been visited repeatedly. 
It is located close to the east shore of the lake immediately south of the 
Igarape das Almas. It is oblong and divided into two parts, the main 
mound and a small one at the north end of it and separated from it by a 
channel. The north-south length is about 90 m. (290 ft.), the width about 
38 m. (125 ft.), and the height about 4 m. (13 ft.) when the water level 
is low. Steere (1927) was able to distinguish three strata showing dif- 
ferences in pottery design and other ornaments, with the best examples 
in the lowest level and the poorest at the top. Penna (1877) confirmed 
this sequence on his visit and concluded that these represented phases of 
a declining civilization. Derby (in Hartt, 1885, p. 22) however states 


that "all the objects, plain as well as ornamented, were encountered near 
the surface and in the middle and lower parts of the mound so that it does 
not seem possible to establish divisions in the deposit." Although stone 
objects are rare, pottery is abundant here as in most of the mounds. 
Penna (1877, p. 53) speaks of pottery as covering the ground like a 
great mosaic. Lange (1914, p. 321) was able to collect over 3,000 speci- 
mens in the course of a week. 

Pottery similar to that from Pacoval is found at Ilha dos Bichos, a 
mound of about half an acre in extent which rises 5 to 8 m. (about 16 
to 26 ft.) above the plain along Arari River north of Cachoeira. This 
was examined by Steere in 1870, and he distinguished two layers of 
occupation separated by a layer of earth. Burial urns were visible at 
different levels in the ravines which had been washed in the sides of 
the mound. 

Along the Anajas River is a group of mounds known as Os Camutins. 
Derby (in Hartt, 1885, pp. 23-25) describes four in some detail and 
states that his informant mentioned 12 in a distance of 1^^ miles (about 
2.4 km.), all but one on the east side of the river. The majority are 
in the narrow zone of trees along the bank but at least two are farther 
off on the plain. The principal mound has a length of approximately 
210 m. (680 ft.), a width of 80 m. (260 ft.) at the base, and a height 
of about 13 m. (42 ft.) above the level of the surrounding plain. It is 
covered with vegetation, and the slopes have been eroded into ravines. 
On the west side of the river is a large excavation which appears to have 
furnished the earth for the construction of the mounds. Derby states that, 

the pottery encountered in the largest mound of the Camutins is of the same charac- 
ter as that from Pacoval. From what I could observe it appears that the large jars 
are more frequently painted than incised, contrary to what is observed at Pacoval. 
The predominant shape is large, depressed and globular, while at Pacoval smaller 
sub-cylindrical and conical forms are more common. These observations are insuf- 
ficient as a basis for a distinction and all the principal shapes are represented in both 
sites. Fragments of tangas are extremely abundant, but no complete ones were 
found. The majority are red in color and undecorated, although I saw some painted 
like those from Pacoval. [Hartt, 1885, p. 25.] 

Monte Carmelo is located near the source of the Anajas River. Frag- 
ments of pottery are exposed here from the river bed to the summit. 
Three stratified layers were observed by Holdridge (1939). The top 
and bottom ones contained quantities of simple, red pottery both incised 
and plain. Between these two was a layer containing the highly developed 
incised, sculptured, and painted ware which is characteristic of the highest 
development on Marajo. 

Teso de Severino was described by Mordini (1934, pp. 63-64). This 
mound is located near the Igarape de Severino, a tributary of Lake 
Aran. It has been completely leveled and is marked only by a ring 
of old trees which outlines its former extent. The pottery here is more 


Plate 15. — Amazonian pottery from Counany. Red-on-yellow ware. (After 

Goeldi, 1900, pis. 1, 2, 3.) 

Plate 16.— Amazonian burial urns from Marajo. a, Modeled hichrome with 
white shp (height approximately 3 ft. (92 cm.)), b, Two modeled urns both 
with inverted bowl lids and found superimposed. These represent a double 
burial with cremated remains in small urn and entire body in larger one 
(Total height approximately 4 ft. 7^ inches (1.41 m.) .) c, Modeled champlev^ 
urn with white paint filler in designs (height approximately 1 ft. (30 cm.)). 
d, White-shpped incised (height approximately 1 ft. (30 cm.)). (Courtesy 
University Museum, Philadelphia.) 


Plate 17. — Amazonian pottery from Marajo. a. Platter-bowl with annular 
base, white-slipped with some interior painting. 6, White-slipped and incised 
urn (height 9 inches (23 cm.)), c, Unslipped incised (height 8 inches (20 cm.)). 
d, Interior of white-slipped, incised and red zoned bowl (greatest diameter 17J4 
inches (44.5 cm.)), {a-c. Courtesy University Museum, Philadelphia; d, 
courtesy American Museum of Natural History.) 

Plate 18. — Amazonian pottery from Marajo and Santarem. n, b, Hollow 
figurines, Santarem. (Larger, approximately 5 inches (13 cm.) high.) c, d, 
Marajo effigy burial urns, incised white, red retouched decoration. (Respective 
heights, 14 inches (35.5 cm.) and 8% inches (21 cm.).) e, Marajo red on white 
(heiglrt, 9 inches (23 cm.).) /, Maraj6 incised white, red retouched (height, 
approximately 8 inches (20 cm.).) g, Maraj6 red and blact ;on white (height, 
7Ji inches (19.5 cm.).) h-j, Tangas, or women's pottery "fig leaves." (a, b, 
Courtesy University Museum, Philadelphia; others, courtesy American Mu- 
seum of Natural History.) 


advanced in design and technique than that from Pacoval. The clay is 
finer and better fired, the workmanship more careful, and the vessels 
are partly covered with a kind of glaze probably produced by the resin o^ 
jutaisica. Tangas found here are decorated with complicated stylized 
anthropomorphic motifs. The characteristic frieze of vertical and diagonal 
lines with the intervening spaces painted a solid color found on tangas from 
Pacoval, does not occur here. 

Santa Izabel, located on the plain northwest of Lake Arari, has 
also been leveled to the surface of the plain. Penna (1877, p. 51) 
describes the artifacts as inferior in number and extent to those o! 
Pacoval, but as rivaling the ceramics of the latter in choice of material 
and perfection of designs, painting, and relief. 

Fortaleza was visited by Farabee. The mound 

had been built up artificially and then used as a village site. Apparently the people 
had cremated the remains of their dead and buried the ashes in small urns in the 
floor of their houses. These urns were beautifully decorated with incised lines or 
paint or both. Many plates, small bowls, cooking pots, and seats were found buried 
with these urns. [P. 145.] Four other mounds in the vicinity were excavated but 
nothing of value was found. They had been used as house sites only, as was indicated 
by the presence of ashes and fragments of pottery. [Farabee, 1921 a, p. 144.] 

Larenjeiras is located northeast of Lago Guajara. It is 5 m. (15 ft.) 
in height and covers over 2 acres. Pottery of all types is abundant. 

These brief accounts represent practically all the definite information 
that has been published about the mounds. A dozen more are mentioned 
by name and vaguely located but not described at all, Mordini (1934, 
p. 62) cites Serra, Teso do Gentios, Menino Deus, and Panellas in 
the area enclosed by the Ganhao and Cururu Rivers and Lakes IVIututi 
and Asapao. These and a group of seven small mounds on the road 
from Cajuliros to Faz Cafe are oval and oriented in an east-west- 
direction. Pacoval do Cururu, IMataforme, and Ananatuba, also oval, 
are oriented north-south. 

Pottery. — In general, pottery shapes are varied but the paste appears to 
be constant. The basic clay is light gray which turns orange-red in 
firing. Sand admixture is rare. The texture varies from coarse to medium, 
depending on the size and number of particles of pounded sherd used 
as temper. In some cases these are large enough to retain traces of 
the original white slip. IVIanufacture was by the coiling method, and 
overlapping layers are visible on the interiors of some of the figurines. 
Firing was done in a kiln and was sufficient to change the color of the 
paste only on the surface, except in cases where the walls were thin. 

The following classification of wares based on surface finish was made 
by Junius Bird after an examination of the collection from Pacoval 
at the American Museum of Natural History. These were probably 
not all contemporary but lack of documentation makes it impossible 
to establish the chronological sequence. 



Plain ware. 

Incised plain ware. Both fine and broad incised lines occur, sometimes combined 

witli punctate marks (pi. 17, c). 
Incised white. The surface is covered with a white slip and decorated with fine 

incised lines (pis. 16, d; 17, b). The color of the slip varies from white through 

cream to orange as a result of variations in firing. 
Incised white, red retouch. Like the preceding except that the incised design is 

accented in places by the addition of red paint to the incisions (pis. 17, d; 18, /). 
Red champleve. Red slipped ware in which the background or field of the 

design has been cut back from the original surface and roughened. 
Red champleve, cream paint in cuts. The design is produced by the same tech- 
nique as in the preceding. A contrast is made between the cut-out parts 

and the rest of the design by the addition of a light-colored paint to the 

cuts (pi. 16, c). 
Double-slipped champleve. Here the red slip was applied over a white 

slip and shaved off in the cut-out areas. The use of a double slip produced 

the same contrast as the preceding method but eliminated the rough surface 

caused by the presence of tempering granules in the paste. 
Incised plain ware, white paint inlay. The designs are applied in bands around the 

rim and are composed of finely incised lines and a deeply gouged background 

which were filled with white paint. 
Painted ware. Painted decoration was used by itself or in combination with incised 

and relief ornament (pis. 16, a, b; 18, e, g-j). Red and brown paint were used 

separately or together on a light-colored slipped surface. 

Two Other types occur in the collection at the Museum of Anthropol- 
ogy, University of Michigan: 

Incised red. The decoration is in simple geometric patterns of broad incised lines 
which go through the slip to the orange paste surface to produce a two-color 

White champleve. The incised lines and indented areas show the orange 
original surface while the intervening areas have a white slip. 

Nonfunerary pottery is abundant and varied in forin. Water jars with 
narrow mouths are common at Pacoval. Handles, which are present on 
some, are of two types : two protuberances or lugs placed below the rim, 
and handles perforated for the insertion of a cord. Large plates or dishes 
are common but are usually recovered only as fragments. Bowls vary in 
shape from deep flat-bottomed ones with sloping sides to shallow concave 
ones. Some are circular, others oval. The former have level rims, and 
the rims of the latter rise to a high point at the ends and slope downward 
to the center of the long sides. Decoration on this type is painted or 
incised, and relief ornament is sometimes found on the rim. Some are 
decorated both on the interior and exterior and others on the interior only. 
An unusual form is a bowl with a flaring annular base and an extremely 
broad concave horizontal rim, so broad that it almost triples the diameter 
of the vessel (pi. 17, a). The interior is painted red or brown on a white 
or cream slip. The exterior is usually unslipped and undecorated. Of 
problematical use is the so-called "offertorio" of the older writers. It is a 
flat or slightly concave disk on a slightly flaring annular base. A few are 


oval. The usual size is about 17 cm. (6^ in.) in diameter and 7 cm. 
(2^ in.) tall. Some, however, are only half this large. They are un- 
slipped and the surface of the disk is covered with incised patterns. In 
the case of the smaller vessels these design areas are often cross-hatched 
An anthropomorphic face in low relief is often used as decoration on the 
side. Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic vessels are rare (pi. 18, c, d). 

Jars of several shapes have been called funerary urns. One has the 
form of two truncated cones joined together at a point about one-fourth 
of the distance from the bases of the vessels (pis. 16, d; 17, b). Another 
type has a globular body with a flat bottom and a cylindrical neck with 
an everted lip (pi. 16, c). In a third type the body is also globular, 
but the neck has the shape of a short truncated cone joined to the body at 
its base (pi. 18, e, g). The height of all these rarely exceeds 60 cm. (24 
in.). Much larger are the urns with anthropomorphic faces in relief on the 
neck (pi. 16, a, b, c). These may be as much as 95 cm. (37 in.) tall with a 
rim diameter of 75 cm. (28 in.). They have globular bodies which taper 
down to an extremely small flat base only about 18 cm. (5 in.) in diameter. 
The neck joins the body at a pronounced shoulder and terminates in a 
widely flaring rim. The greatest diameter of the body is only a little 
more than that of the rim. Two anthropomorphic faces in low relief 
adorn the neck, one at front and one at back. A small human figure often 
occupies the intervening space at each side. The body of the vessel is 
covered with painted decoration in large curvilinear patterns. 

Figurines. — Figurines, or "idolos," are variations of the seated type 
found in many parts of South America. The larger ones are hollow (fig. 
16, right). The legs are separated and rounded at the end. Often there 
is a ridge across the base of the tip to represent the foot, which is left 
smooth or marked with three to eight toes. Arms are shown at the sides, 
raised, or only suggested by a protuberance or lateral extension at each 
shoulder. Heads differ in shape and detail, but almost invariably the nose 
and eyebrows are joined to form a Y or T. The sex is usually indicated 
and is, in a majority of cases, female. In addition to these separate 
figurines, many anthropomorphic and zoomorphic heads are found which 
once were part of the relief and molded decoration of vessels. These are 
generally solid. Some show traces of slip and decoration, while others 
have the orange-red color and rather rough surface of the unslipped clay. 

Tangas. — Tangas, which are found in abundance, are thought to have 
been worn by the women as a pubic covering (pi. 18, h-j). They are 
triangular in shape, about 15 cm. (6 in.) long and 12 cm. (5 in.) wide 
at the upper edge. The upper edge is convex and the other two are con- 
cave. The inner surface is concave and the outer convex. There is a 
small pierced hole, 1 to 2 cm. from each corner, for the insertion of a cord 
for attachment to the body. Many show grooves where the friction of 
the cord has worn away the clay. The clay used is always very fine, and 



Figure 16. — Maracd and Marajo pottery. Left: Maracd urn (height, approximately 
2j4 ft. (75 cm.)). Right: Marajo hollow figurine (red-on-white) (height 24 cm. 
(9j/2 in.) ). (After Nordenskiold, 1930 a, pi. 18 and Frontispiece.) 

the objects themselves are often exceedingly thin. Both surfaces are 
smoothed and usually slipped either red or white. The outer surface in 
the latter case is decorated with great care and beauty in a symmetrical 
pattern. Mordini (1934) noted that the majority of the tangas found at 
Pacoval show consistently the same border pattern across the top. This 
was not found on tangas from Teso de Severino. Tangas with dark red 
slip and no decoration are found at Camutins. 
Decorative styles. — Holdridge (1939, p. 74) states that 

while there are slight regional differences in the pottery designs and manner of execu- 
tion, there is a general identity of artistic motives and technic that points to an island- 
wide cultural integrity. The most complicated designs found in the Chaves pottery 
can be duplicated satisfactorily in a piece from Soure. 

This continuity of style makes it possible to list a few very characteristic 
features. One of the most common geometrical motifs in painted, incised, 
or relief decoration is the spiral which occurs in many variations, single 
and interlocking. Also characteristic are stylized representations of the 
human face which occur in almost an infinite variety and produce a sym- 
metrical design used on tangas as well as on funerary urns and other 
vessels. The T is another design element often used. The sides of 


funerary urns sometimes show an H-like motif in relief. Relief decoration 
was usually confined to the rim except on the larger vessels, where an- 
thropomorphic and zoomorphic heads in the round were used as decoration 
on rims and as applique on the sides. These as well as the figurines show 
conventional treatment both in modeling and painting. The most char- 
acteristic facial feature is the joining of the eyebrows and nose in a Y or T. 
Zoomorphic heads sometimes have coffee-bean eyes and are generally 
more crude than the anthropomorphic heads. Characteristic of the latter 
are a double protuberance to indicate the ear, a protuberance on the top 
of the head, and conventional painted outlines of eyebrows, eyes, nose, 
mouth, and ears. 

Burial. — Secondary urn burial was practiced throughout the island. 
The urns were buried in the mounds and the most richly decorated were 
sometimes placed inside cruder ones for protection. A shallow bowllike 
cover was inverted on top (pi. 16, b). At Camutins, the large urns 
contained whole bodies placed in seated position while the small urns held 
the ashes of cremated individuals (Farabee, 1921 a, p. 145). 

When the urn was placed in the grave, the bottom of the hole was dug to fit it, 
so that all of the smaller pieces of pottery placed with the dead were deposited at 
the side of the neck on the shoulder of the urn. [Ibid., p. 146.] 


Caviana. — Caviana is an island about 50 miles long lying in the mouth 
of the Amazon north of Marajo. At a cemetery in the southeast of the 
island, Nimuendajii (Linne, 1928 b) excavated a group of funerary urns. 
These had been buried directly in the ground. They are of several types 
and show diversity in the technical skill of the makers as well as in the 
shape and style of the decoration of the vessel. An urn 33 cm. (13 in.) 
tall with the mouth at the side and a tiered profile was found at Apany. A 
similar vessel from Para was described by Joyce (1912). Both are crudely 
made and have applique decoration of lumps of clay. A more advanced 
type is a semicylindrical urn with a stylized human figure outlined in low 
relief on one side. A third type has painted decoration reminiscent of that 
found on pottery from Ukupi and Cunany. A seated anthropomorphic 
urn illustrated by Nordenskiold (1930 a, pi. 20) resembles those from 
Maraca. The features are in low relief, and the painted decoration is red 
and gray. 

Glass beads, metal knives and axes, and small brass bells from European 
trade were found with the urns and establish their origin as post- 
Columbian. Small objects, possibly ornaments, of greenstone were also 

In the urns, the smallest bones were placed at the bottom, the large ones 
at the sides, and the skull on top. A single urn sometimes contained the 
remains of more than one individual. Occasional anthropomorphic urns 


have two faces, and Linne (1928 b, p. 79) postulates that such an urn was 
destined to contain two skeletons. 

Although its geographical position is that of a link between Mara jo and 
Brazilian Guiana, culturally Caviana is most closely allied with the main- 
land. The differences which exist between it and Marajo are striking. 
The only features which are common to both are secondary urn burial 
and the custom of painting the bones red. The absence of mounds, the 
anthropomorphic character of the urns, and the style of relief and painted 
decoration indicate stronger affiliations between Caviana and the coast to 
the north. Nimuendaju (Linne, 1928 b) has explained this by the theory 
that the inhabitants of Caviana, the Arud, immigrated from Brazilian 
Guiana and returned there when the pressure of the Europeans became 
too strong. 

Maraca. — This site has been known since 1870. It is located on a small 
tributary of the Maraca River which flows through Brazilian Guiana and 
empties into the Amazon almost at the Equator. There are no mounds. 
The pottery was found in natural grottos at the edge of a plain close to the 
river. Funerary urns are abundant, and the majority are in the form of 
a human being seated on a bench. The trunk, arms, and legs are cylindrical 
(fig. 16, left). The head which forms the cover is about 18 cm. (7 in.) 
high and has a flat top covered with small knobs. The features of the face 
are made by ribbons of clay and are enclosed at top and sides by a relief 
stripe. The sex is either male or female. These figures often have painted 
ornaments, and Nordenskiold (1930 a, p. 20) reports that the calf of the 
leg is swollen, indicating perhaps that binding was practiced by the people. 
One of these urns was ornamented with green, blue, and white glass beads 
attached to the arms and spine. These date from the 17th-century Euro- 
pean trade contact and indicate the manufacture of these urns in the post- 
Columbian period. Zoomorphic urns in this same tubular style have also 
been found in the caves. 

The paste is coarse and composed of clay mixed with sand. Cariape (a 
vegetal temper) does not appear to have been used. The workmanship 
is crude ; the vessel walls are thick and irregular, and the surface is rough. 
Paint was restricted to the ornaments mentioned above, and the surface 
of the vessel as a whole exhibits the tan to orange-brown color produced 
by firing. Firing was not thorough enough to bake the walls through, and 
the interior retains the original dark gray color. 

According to Penna (1877), these urns contained entire skeletons. The 
bones were arranged with the pelvis at the bottom, the rest of the bones 
along the sides, and the skull on top. 

Cunany. — The Cunany site on the coast of Brazilian Guiana was dis- 
covered by Coudreau in 1883 and described in detail by Goeldi in 1895 
( 1900) . The funerary urns were found in artificial subterranean galleries. 
Goeldi offered the hypothesis that the ancestors of the builders lived in an 


area where caves occurred naturally and were used as repositories for 
burial urns. Their descendents, accustomed to this situation and finding 
no natural caves in this new area, constructed substitutes. Fragments of 
pottery identical with those from Cunany were found recently by 
Nimuendaju (Linne, 1928 b) in a cave of Mont Ukupi near the Arucara 
River. If Goeldi's hypothesis is correct, these later discoveries may be of 
greater age. Linne (1928 b, p. 73) states that it is possible to detect some 
evolution in the painted decoration. The Cunany urns are believed to be 
post-Columbian or contemporary with the Conquest. 

The paste is gray or bluish in cross section. The amount of sand is 
small and large amounts of crushed sherds were used as temper, especially 
in the thick-walled vessels. A microscopic examination showed no ad- 
mixture of ashes of caraipe or of sponges. Firing was sufficient to bake 
the thin-walled vessels but those with thick walls show a poorly baked 
center. Fine white clay was used as a slip. 

A variety of forms are found, almost all of which are divided into 
horizontal zones by the more or less sharp changes in plane of the vessel 
wall, by relief bands, or by changes in design motif. Shapes include large 
jars with globular bodies and straight necks ; jars with small bases, con- 
stricted necks and wide rims, often with anthropomorphic facial features 
in low relief (pi. 15, d, g) ; bowls with vertical sides and flaring rims (pi. 
15, h, i) ; rectangular vessels with flat bottoms and outward flaring sides 
(pi. 15, c, e) ; and oval "boat-shaped" vessels on a cylindrical pedestal 
(pi. 15, a). 

Ornament is painted and relief. Painted designs are red on a yellowish 
slip. The rim and base are sometimes painted solid red. Frets, spirals, 
steps, commas, and a rambling three-line design are typical geometrical 
motifs. The corners are occasionally ornamented with a row of vertical 
notches. Relief decoration includes the outline of a human face on the rim 
and of the human body on the body of the vessel, and anthropomorphic and 
zoomorphic figures in the round jutting out from the sides of bowls and 
rectangular vessels. 

All of the vessel shapes listed above except the large jars with globular 
bodies and straight necks were recorded by Goeldi as having contained 
traces or fragments of human bones. 

Rio Calsoene. — On high points along the coast of Brazil north of the 
Amazon, as for example on the Calsoene River and on the tributaries of 
the Cunany River, rows of stones have been found. The largest of these 
is located on the Estancia Jose Antonio on the north bank of the lower 
Calsoene River. It is 100 m. (325 ft.) long but has been damaged in 
many places. One hundred and fifty stones of all sizes are visible above 
ground. The largest measures 2 m. (6^ft.) by 70 cm. (26^/2 in.) by 
25 cm. (9^4 in.), and has an estimated weight of 600 kilograms (1,323 
lbs. ) . These stones must have been brought from a considerable distance, 


an enormous task with primitive methods of hauling and transportation. 
Excavations made by Nimuendaju (Linne, 1928 b) show that these rocks 
were not placed over graves. Little pottery was found in the vicinity, and 
much of that was in a fragmentary state. A vessel with a wide mouth 
was covered with a large stone slab and protected by two stones at the 
sides. A few other similar objects have been discovered in the ground. 
To explain these structures we must resort to speculation, but it seems 
probable that they had a religious purpose. 

Ilha de Carao. — Ilha de Carao is located in a swamp at the mouth of 
the Mayacare River. On it is a mound about 10 meters (33 ft.) long 
and 2.2 meters (6 ft. 8 inches) high. It is stratified into three distinct 
layers. The lowest, composed of ashes, is 70 cm. (26>4 in.) thick and 
covered with a thick layer of potsherds. These appear to be mainly 
from platters as much as 80 cm. (30^^ in.) in diameter. They show 
incised decorations as well as traces of red and white paint. The second 
stratum is about 50 cm. (19^ in.) thick and composed of gray dirt. 
On top is a layer of yellow clay 1 meter (3 ft. 3 in.) thick. Some 
stones belonging to the same category as those described from the Cal- 
soene River had been set up on the summit. Pottery fragments in the 
two upper layers were so badly disintegrated that only sherds from a 
few small vessels were preserved. 

The three layers of the mound do not appear to correspond to three diflferent 
cultures. While the thick debris of the lowest level may be the product of an 
independent ancient population, it must be recognized that the differences of technique, 
decoration, etc. are not great enough to furnish absolute proof for this hypothesis. 
The pottery of the two upper layers appears to belong to a single period, although 
some vessels are buried deeper than others. [Linne, 1928 b, pp. 75-76.] 

This mound was apparently constructed prior to European contact since 
no object of European origin or showing European influence has been 
found associated with it. 


Distribution. — ^The lower Tapajoz River is the center of another cul- 
ture type. Evidence was meager until the summer of 1922 when a 
cloudburst washed out the streets of Santarem and uncovered stone tools 
and a great quantity of pottery. Much was saved through the efforts 
of NimuendajtJL, and a subsequent survey by him has made it possible 
to outline the boundaries of the complex. It extends up the Tapajoz 
to Aramanahy and is represented by numerous inland sites on the right 
bank. On the left, there is a site at Boim. To the east, remains are 
common as far as Taperinha and scattered to the eastern limit at Bocca 
de Coaty on the Jaraucu River, a tributary of the lower Xingii. The 
western limit is Serra de Parintins and there are numerous sites on 
both banks of the Arapiuns River, a tributary entering the Tapajoz 


northwest of Santarem, and in the region of Lago Grande de Villa 
Franca. North of the Amazon there are some sites around Monte 
Alegre, but Nimuendaju found nothing between here and Obidos 
(Palmatary, 1939, pp. 4-5). 

Ceramics. — The pottery of this area is perhaps the most remarkable in 
the Amazon Valley. The paste is light gray in cross section and light 
tan on the surface. Santarem pottery is notable for its unusual shapes 
and profusion of modeled bird and animal ornament (fig. 17). Many 
vessels show traces of red paint and some of a white slip. Among the 
principal forms are : ( 1 ) A six-lobed vessel resting on a flaring annular 
base or small caryatid. The neck is tall and narrow and flares out in 
one or more places to form a flange or series of flanges. At two opposite 
sides of the body, the lobe is extended outward and upward and terminates 
in a stylized bird head with the beak curved downward in a loop. Other 
decoration consists of animals modeled in the round, geometrical relief 
patterns, and lightly incised geometrical designs. (2) A bowl supported 
on a caryatid with an hour-glass-shaped base. The bowl has a vertical 
rim which is decorated with an incised pattern. At the widest diameter 
modeled ornament is attached. (3) A bowl with almost vertical sides, 
a flat bottom, and a concentric, or trough rim. The two edges of the 
trough are connected at four regular intervals by a wide loop. (4) A 
tall jar with a narrow base. The greatest diameter is about one-fourth 
of the distance from the base and above this the sides slope inward to 
the rim. The height is about 34 cm. (12)^ inches). There is little or 
no relief and no incised decoration. (5) A jar with a globular body and 
a short vertical neck with a wide mouth. The base is flat or slightly 
pointed. Decoration is relief or incised. (6) Numerous small vessels 
in four-lobed and other exotic shapes. (7) Effigy vessels in seated posi- 
tions with globular bodies. Two illustrated by Palmatary (1939, figs. 
3-4) are covered with painted geometrical figures in red and black on 
a light-colored background. (8) Seated figurines (pi. 18, a, h). These 
are hollow and larger on the average than those found at Mara j 6. The 
top of the leg slopes downward toward the tip. The hands are placed at 
the side, on the leg, or on the chest. Numerous anthropomorphic and 
zoomorphic figures and heads are found which were part of the ornament 
of vessels. These are generally small and solid. Anthropomorphic heads, 
whether figurines or part of the applied decoration of vessels, show 
various conventional traits : a headdress resembling a diadem, an oblong 
nose, and ears indicated by a double prominence or with the lobe pierced 
for the insertion of an ornament. The eyes are commonly coffee-bean 
or a horizontal ribbon of clay, although there are numerous other types 
(Palmatary, 1939). Zoomorphic heads are abundant and represent a 
great variety of animals and birds. Some of the most common of these 
appear to have been conventionalized and conform rigidly to the con- 



[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

Figure 17. — Santarem pottery. (After Palmatary, 1939, figs. 2 and 7.) 

vention in modeling and decoration. The jaguar has a wide-open mouth, 
the agouti has its front paws drawn up under the chin, birds have down- 
curved beaks, etc. Ahnost all have the round-rimmed protuberant type 
of eye. 


Burials. — In spite of a diligent search, no burials have been discovered 
in this area. The explanation probably lies in the method of disposing 
of the dead which was described by Heriarte in the 17th century 
(Nordenskiold, 1930 a). The body was left exposed until the flesh had 
decayed away. The bones were then pulverized and the powder mixed 
with chicha, which was drunk. 


Miracanguera. — Miracanguera extends about 5 miles (8 km.) along 
the north bank of the Amazon opposite the mouth of the Madeira River. 
According to Nimuendaju, it has been ravaged by flood waters. Penna, 
writing in 1877, reported that most of the clay objects were found isolated 
from each other. The material is a fine clay slightly reddish-gray in 
color. It contains no sand. A white slip was used and there are traces 
of red paint. Some of the remains indicate a high degree of development 
of the ceramic art, but were too fragmentary for description. Penna's 
conclusion was that the ceramics of this area were inferior to those from 
Santa rem and the lower Amazon. 

A funerary urn from Itacoatiara, just down the river, is illustrated 
by Netto (1885, Est. VA). The round bottom rests on a short pedestal. 
The sides slope inward slightly at the neck and then flare out to the 
rim. A bowlike cover fits perfectly over the top. The exterior is covered 
with a white slip. On one side of the neck is an anthropomorphic face 
with the features in low relief. 

Manaos. — The city of Manaos is located on the north bank of the 
Amazon near the mouth of the Rio Negro, about 900 miles (1,440 km.) 
above Belem. Although it has been known as an archeological site since 
the end of the last century, we still have to rely largely on the descriptions 
of early travelers for information. There are a few articles in museums 
but these are accompanied b}' no information about their source. 

The funerary urns were buried just below ground level. Steere (1927, 
p. 25) visited Manaos in 1870 and "on the parade ground of the Brazilian 
troops stationed there, I saw the rims of several burial urns which were 
being worn down by the bare feet of the soldiers." Marcoy (quoted 
by Metraux, 1930 a, p. 174) describes the urns: 

These vessels, made of a coarse paste of an obscure red-brown color, are at the 
level of the ground. Their height varies from 70 cm. (26^ in.) to 1 m. (3 ft., 3 in.) ; 
the diameter of the mouth is about 40 cm. (IS^/^ in.). Crude designs, lozanges, 
zig-zags, chevrons, billets are painted in black on their sides. Some have a cover, but 
the majority are open and empty. 

Metraux has described the collection at the Musee du Trocadero in 
Paris. Only one piece is intact, a bowl on a flaring annular base. The 
decoration is in low relief. There are many fragments including a rim 
sherd with a flat vertical handle ornamented with lines ending in volutes. 


The color of the clay is rose-gray. There are numerous heads of birds 
and animals that were used as ornament on vessels. 

Teflfe. — Pottery discovered at the mouth of the Teffe River shows 
similarities both with Santarem and with Marajo. The extension of the 
eyebrows to form the nose so common on Marajo occurs here. The 
zoomorphic heads are similar to those from Santarem, and there are other 
striking resemblances between the pottery of the two areas. 

Japura. — Farther west, above Macupury on the Japura River, a burial 
urn containing badly-preserved bones was discovered. It is 42 cm. (1654 
in.) tall and 37.5 cm. (14^ in.) at the largest diameter. The domelike 
cover is 23 cm. (9 in.) in diameter and fits the mouth of the vessel exactly. 
The features of the anthropomorphic face on the neck are in relief and are 
enclosed by an incised line which runs across the forehead and perpendicu- 
larly down the sides, ending in a relief volute on each side below the level 
of the mouth. The urn is covered with a white slip and decorated at the 
largest diameter with a red band 6 cm. (2^ in.) wide. 

For bibliographic references, see page 151. 


By Charles Wagley and Eduardo Galvao 


Isolated from other Tupi-Guarani-speaking people, the Tapirape live 
in Central Brazil, west of the Araguaya River and north of the Tapirape 
River, a western tributary flowing into the Araguaya near the northern 
tip of the Island of Bananal (lat. 2° S., long. 52° W.). According to 
tradition, the Tapirape lived for a time on the banks of the Araguaya and 
Javahe Rivers with the Carajd. They quarreled, and the Tapirape moved 
west to their present territory (map 1, No. 1; see Volume 1, map 7). 
At the beginning of last century, five Tapirape villages formed a line 
stretching northward into Cayapo country beginning at a point a few 
miles back from the Tapirape River about 1 50 miles from its mouth. The 
Tapirape have always been at war with the Cayapo, except for a brief 
period. Each of these villages contained at least 200 individuals with a 
total Tapirape population of about 1,000. Since 1900, however, there 
has been a terrific reduction of Tapirape population. 

In 1939, there was only one remaining Tapirape village situated about 
20 miles north of the Tapirape River with a total population of 147 people. 
This decline in population is basically due to disease (smallpox, respira- 
torial diseases, etc.) acquired either directly from Neo-Brazilians or from 
the Carajd, who are continually in contact with Neo-Brazilians. Tapirape 
groups have been also m.assacred on several occasions by both the Carajd 
and Cayapo. 

The Tapirape have had but few contacts, however, with Neo-Brazilians. Except 
for the demoralizing effect of depopulation, their culture has been little modified. 
Although stories are told of Neo-Brazilian hunters visiting the Tapirape in 1909, 
the first registered contact with them was in 1912. During that year, Senor Manda- 
curu, leading an expedition of the Brazilian Indian Protection Service, visited the 
village nearest the Tapirape River. In 1914, the Dominican priests visited the 
Tapirape. From that date on, the Dominicans returned each year or so to a camp 
on the Tapirape River for 3 or 4 days at a time and were met by the Tapirape, to 
whom they distributed trade goods. About 1934, a Protestant missionary, Frederick 
Kiegel, made several trips, staying 2 or 3 months in a Tapirape village. In 1935, 
the first trained ethnologist, Dr. Herbert Baldus, resided several months with the 
Tapirape, and in 1939^10, Wagley spent 12 months with them making the study 
on which this article is based. 




The region inhabited by the Tapirape is one of dense tropical forest; 
yet near the Tapirape River and parallel to its small tributaries, there are 
great strips of semiarid savanna country characterized by scrub growth 
and groups of buriti palms. These plains are flooded during the excessive 
rains from October to April, and they are arid during the latter part of the 
dry season (May through September). 

Farming. — The Tapirape make great clearings in the forest for their 
villages, traveling occasionally to the savanna country for hunting. Their 
large gardens guarantee them an economy of abundance. They plant sev- 
eral varieties of both sweet and poisonous manioc, four varieties of maize, 
pumpkins, beans, peppers, cara (Dioscorea sp.) and yams, peanuts, 
squash, several varieties of bananas and beans, cotton, and papaya. 

Each year, from June to September, the men clear away the forest for 
[heir gardens. Clearing is frequently done individually ; frequently also 
it is done cooperatively by the men's ceremonial moiety groups in a work 
festival (apaciru). When communally prepared, the large clearings are 
afterward divided into individual garden lots. Gardens are, thus, gener- 
ally individual property; now and again, however, a younger man plants 
together with an older man (his father-in-law) or a close relative. When 
clearing is done by apaciru, plots are allocated for ceremonial moiety 
leaders, who use the produce during the harvest feast (kao) at the end 
of the rainy season. Vegetation and tree trunks, cut down during the 
dry season and left to dry, are burned in September, Just after the first 
rains of October, planting is begun. All crops are planted without order 
or division within the garden plot, and weeds are never cleared away as 
the garden grows. All gardening is done by men except the planting and 
harvesting of peanuts and cotton, which is done entirely by women. 

Harvest takes place as the various crops ripen. Maize planted in late 
October or early November ripens in January ; in April and May squash, 
cara, beans, etc. begin to ripen. Manioc is harvested as needed throughout 
the year. All food from the gardens is said to belong to the wife once it 
is brought into the house. 

Garden plots are planted for 2 years and then abandoned. The second 
year only manioc is generally planted in the plot. Yet each year a new 
plot is cleared from virgin forest and thus each gardener has generally 
two current garden plots — one newly cleared and a second-year plot planted 
with manioc. The lack of virgin forest on high ground for garden clear- 
ings within accessible distance to the village, as well as the fear of the 
spirits of recent dead, force the Tapirape to move their village site each 
4 or 5 years to a new site. 

Manioc is by far the most important Tapirape crop, as manioc flour is 
the basis of their diet. Different from other Tupi groups, however, the 


Tapirape do not use the tipiti (the long woven tube in which the water is 
squeezed from poisonous manioc) , but squeeze poisonous manioc with their 
hands. The pulp is then spread out on a platform in the sun to be thor- 
oughly dried. The flour is toasted in a clay pot over a very hot fire. 

Wild foods. — Meat is a definite luxury to the agricultural Tapirape. 
Monkeys, armadillos, forest fowls, cuati (Nasua sp.), and both kinds of 
peccary (Tayassus tajacii and T. pecari) are occasionally killed in 
the forest at any time during the year. The hunting and fishing season, 
however, is from June through October, when the savanna country is dry. 
The savannas are extraordinarily rich with game. Plains deer, wild pigs, 
peccary, and wild duck, and geese near the drying swamps are plentiful. 

Fish are shot with the bow and arrow and stupefied with timbo 
(Paullinea pinnata or Serjania sp.) in the almost dry streams and lakes. 
The village is almost deserted in September and October, after garden 
sites have been cleared and before planting. Men, women, and children 
move out to the plains country near the Tapirape River and set up a 
temporary camp. They collect turtle eggs and kill turtles in the river. 
They gather piqui fruit (Caryocar vellosum), andiroba {Carapa guya- 
nensis) , and other wild fruits, and, from October through November, they 
find wild honey both on the savanna and in the forest. 

Hunting is done with the bow and arrow, but a club is used to finish 
the kill, especially wild pigs or jaguars. 


The houses of a Tapirape village form an oval around a large ceremonial 
men's house (takana), which is forbidden to the women. Both the large 
men's house, approximately 20 by 65 feet (6 by 20 m.), and the residential 
houses, averaging 13 by 33 feet (4 by 10 m.), have a quadrangular floor 
plan with arched roofs made by bending flexible poles and tying them 
together over a roof beam (pi. 19, bottom, lejt). The walls and the roof 
are covered with leaves of buriti palm and wild banana. 

In the surviving village, called Tampitawa, there were nine residential 
houses, each housing from four to eight simple families. Each family 
occupies a determined sector of the house where they cook, keep their 
belongings, and hang their sleeping hammocks. Household utensils, such 
as baskets, pots, hammocks, and gourds, are owned by the women of each 
simple family. Houses, though built by men, are said to be the property 
of the women of the house. The house frame is constructed cooperatively 
by all the men of the house. Each man covers the portion to be used by 
his wife and children. 

Ideally, residence is matrilocal, and the house is inhabited by a group 
of closely related women and their husbands. The household leader is 
generally the husband of the oldest woman of the group (see p. 172). 
Owing perhaps to great depopulation and the accumulation of refugees 


from many villages in the one village, many combinations of relatives now 
form residential groups. 


Both sexes are nude. Men tie the prepuce over the glans penis with a 
palm fiber. Both men and women pull out pubic, axillary, and all facial 
hair. Even eyebrows are considered ugly. Men wear cotton string liga- 
tures around their legs, just below the knee. Men, and sometimes women, 
wear large cotton wrist bands crocheted directly on to their arms. Young 
boys and girls sometimes wear similar ornaments on their ankles; these 
ornaments are painted with a thick coat of red urucii dye and have round 
cuffs, often 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm.) wide. Necklaces of beads given 
by Neo-Brazilians are highly valued and used almost to excess. Men 
paint their feet and the calves of their legs red with urucii ; both men and 
women trace a multitude of patterns on their body with black genipa dye. 

Men have their lower lip pierced and wear a small wooden lip plug. 
Two years or so after women have begun sexual life, patterns in the form 
of a three-quarter moon are made on their faces by scarification with a paca 
{Cuniculus paca) tooth knife. Charcoal and plant juices are rubbed into 
the wounds to leave dark blue designs. 


The Tapirape do not have canoes. All cargoes are carried by the men 
in a carrying knapsack made from buriti-palm fibers strapped to their 


Weaving. — Hammocks are made by women from native cotton spun on 
wooden spindles. The technique used is the simple twine weaving used 
by the Tupinamba and other Tupi groups. 

Ceramics. — ^At present, the art of ceramics is declining. Pottery is 
usually for cooking, and is made by women. Sometimes it bears incised 
geometrical decorations. 

Gourds. — Gourds are decorated with geometric incisions. 

Basketry. — ^The most highly developed basketry techniques among the 
Tapirape are woven and twilled. Two types of baskets are flexible and 
nonflexible ones; both are of buriti fiber. They generally have a quad- 
rangular base and a narrow, round top, and are used mostly to store 
manioc or maize flour. Flat, round baskets are used as cotton containers 
or flour sifters. They are usually ornamented with motifs originating in 
the weave itself; frequently the finished basket is smeared with black 
genipa and odd strands are scraped off, giving a negative decorative effect. 

Plate 19. — Tapirape ceremonies and house construction. Top, left: Youth in 
preparation for puberty ceremony. The large, heavy diadem of macaw feathers 
will be supportei by the lock of hair wrapped in cotton cord. Top, right: 
Shaman wearing dangerous ceremonial headdress during Thunder ceremony. 
He is intoxicated by tobacco and in a trance state. Bottom, left: Construction 
of men's house. Bottom, right: Dance masks representing the "Crying Spirit," 
one of many forest spirits who are said to come to stay for a time in the men's 
ceremonial house. (Courtesy Charles Wagley.) 


Weapons. — Bows have a circular cross section and average about 6 feet 
(2 m.) in length. The arrows are of cane about 5 feet (1.6 m.) long with 
heads of bone, hardwood, and the spur from the sting ray {Potamotyrgon 
histrix) . They have brilliant feathers, sometimes the red and blue feathers 
of the red macaw. Clubs are made of several polished hardwoods and are 
sometimes decorated near the handles with woven strands of cane fibers. 


Three distinct social groupings are basic in Tapirape social organization : 
men's ceremonial moieties, feast societies, and the kinship groups. 

Ceremonial moieties. — All Tapirape men belong to one of the patri- 
lineal ceremonial moieties. Each of these moieties is further divided 
into three age grades. There are consequently two groups of youths 
(those up to 15 years of age) ; two groups of men of warrior age (15 to 
40 years) ; and two groups of older men (40 to 60 years). Each group 
bears the name of a bird, the word "wira" (bird) being the generic name 
for the group. These age groups (Baldus, 1937, p. 96, calls them "work 
groups") function as units in hunting and in clearing garden sites at the 
cooperative work festival; parallel groups also dance against each other 
in various ceremonials and reciprocally feast each other. Each moiety 
owns half of the men's house, and its portion is subdivided into sections 
owned by the three age grades. The warrior age group of each moiety 
has a "walking leader" for hunting excursions and communal work, and a 
"singing leader" for ceremonials. As a man becomes elderly, he entirely 
drops out of the "bird" groups and is no longer affiliated, as he cannot 
take part in their economic and ceremonial activities. At present, the 
Tapirape are so reduced in number that, lacking older men, younger men 
pass prematurely into the older men's age grade in order to retain the 
necessary balance for ceremonials. 

Feast groups. — Both men and women are divided into eight feasting 
groups called tataupawa (literally, "fire all to eat") Men belong to their 
fathers' feast group and women to their mothers'. Feast groups are not 
only nonexogamic, but people prefer to marry within their own group so 
that husband and wife may attend feasts together. These groups carry 
the names of the mythological heads of the original eight households of 
the first Tapirape village. They unite at various times throughout the 
year for ceremonial meals. The feasts take place at traditional spots in 
the village plaza, at times when there is an abundance of honey, maize, or 
meat from the hunt. Each member brings his contribution. BaJdus (1937, 
p. 88) calls these "eating groups," and emphasizes that they are consumers' 
groups providing a means of distributing food when more is available than 
a family can eat. Today only six groups meet for feasts, two being extinct 
for lack of members. 



Kinship. — Kinship is more important in furthering solidarity among 
the Tapirape than either the moieties or the feast groups. Tapirape kin- 
ship is bilateral, its chief principle being that all cousins, whether cross- 
or parallel-cousins, no matter how distant, are considered brothers and 
sisters. Children of people calling each other siblings are also called 
siblings. Mother's sisters are called mother, and father's brothers, father. 
Mother's brothers and father's sisters are distinguished by special terms. 
Similarly, a man's brothers' children are considered his sons and daughters, 
and a woman's sisters' children are her children. Children of a man's 
sisters or a woman's brothers are given special terms. 

The wide inclusiveness of kinship affiliation makes it possible for an 
individual to call the majority of his fellow villagers — and in former days 
many people in other villages — by terms of close relationship. 

An older man of some prestige gathers around him by adoption as many 
"daughters" or as many of his wife's "daughters" as possible. By the 
marriage of these "daughters," he attracts a group of younger men within 
his household who contribute constantly to his larder through the hunt and 
garden activities. At present, only three of the nine houses in the village 
were formed in this way, but reduced numbers, we were told, forced 
various combinations of relatives to share a household. 


Childbirth. — Although aware that pregnancy is brought about by 
sexual intercourse, the Tapirape believe that conception takes place when a 
shaman, serving as intermediary, brings a "child spirit" to the woman. 
Thunder, night, monkeys, wild pigs, and various fish and insects are 
supposed to contain child spirits. 

When the woman is certain that she is pregnant, she tells her husband. 
They both paint their bodies with genipa and cover their hair with urucu. 
During the first few days of pregnancy, no restraints are imposed upon the 
child's parents, but as birth approaches, all sexual contact must cease. 
All men who have sexual relations with a woman during her pregnancy 
are considered fathers of the future child, together with the real father. 

At childbirth the woman is assisted by her mother and sister and by 
two male relatives. The husband retires to his hammock and is forbidden 
to partake of any liquid refreshment. 

Infanticide is practiced because it is considered bad to have more than 
three children, or two children of the same sex. The fourth child, or 
third of the same sex, of one mother is buried in a hole dug inside the 
residence for the afterbirth. 

On the day after birth, a male child has his lower lip perforated. Until 
the child is weaned, the parents must refrain from sexual relations and 
must not eat salt, sugar, honey, or the meat of various animals and forest 
fowls. Both boys and girls also are restricted in their meat diet. A son 


and sometimes a daughter of important people may be treated as a favorite 
child, being given special attention and education and being highly decor- 
ated during various ceremonies in which such children are central figures. 
Treatment as a "favorite child" brings prestige throughout one's whole life. 

Puberty. — When a boy is about 12 years old, he ties his prepuce over 
the glans penis. His hair is cropped close to his head, and his entire body 
is painted black with genipa. He substitutes a short mother-of-pearl lip 
plug for the long bone one worn by young boys. During this time, the 
boy must sleep in the men's house. His arms and legs are scratched from 
time to time deep enough to draw blood, so that he will grow strong. 

When he is about 14 years old, his hair is allowed to grow and is tied 
at the nape of his neck. His hair is not cut for a year or two in preparation 
lor his puberty ceremony, which is considered the most important event 
in a man's life. On the appointed day, the boy is richly ornamented, the 
main ornament being a large diadem principally of red macaw feathers 
set in a heavy block of wood (pi. 19, top, left). This diadem is supported 
by the hair and weighs well over 10 pounds. For 24 hours the boy is 
forced to dance continually under the weight of excessive decoration to 
prove his endurance. 

During a girl's first three menstrual cycles, a geometric pattern is traced 
with genipa on her body. During this time, she must refrain from sexual 
relations. There is no special puberty ceremony for girls. Girls are 
usually already married at puberty, especially at present with the lack of 

Marriage. — Formerly there was some intervillage antagonism, and 
people preferred to marry within their own village. Despite such antag- 
onism and the fact that villages were 2 to 3 days' walk apart, considerable 
intervillage visiting occurred, and genealogies show that intervillage mar- 
riage was not rare. Today, with refugees from all villages in the one 
village, antagonisms and local village patriotism exist only in the memory 
of older people. 

Men marry immediately after the initiation rites, and the women, at 
least in modern times, at any time after the age of 7 or 8 years. People do 
not marry cousins who are called "brother" and "sister" of close connec- 
tion, but marriage with those of distant relationship is not infrequent. 
Monogamy is the absolute rule. 

Because the population has declined and men outnumber women, marriage 
rules have been somewhat altered. All women have husbands, and there 
are now about 10 young men waiting for 7- or 8-year old girls. There are 
also marriages between men and very young pre-adolescent girls; these 
are brought about because the men are greatly dependent on the women's 
work. In such cases, the husband goes to live in his wife's house, where 
his mother-in-law helps the girl work for him. 


Until the first child is born, marriage bonds are rather weak, but hence- 
forth the marriage is comparatively stable. There are, however, frequent 
cases of adultery, and a guilty woman who is found out is thrashed by her 
husband. When a marriage is dissolved, the man leaves the house, which 
is considered the wife's property, although built by him. 

Upon a man's death, his widow remains in the house. After about 2 
months of free sexual relations, she chooses a new husband. 

Death. — The Tapirape believe that death is brought about by sorcery 
and never by natural causes. Frequently, when the relatives of the 
deceased enjoyed sufficient prestige, they kill the shaman whom they 

As soon as it is certain that the sick man will die, mourning begins in 
the form of a wailing dirge by both men and women. The men dance 
around the hammock of the dying or dead man, while the women remain 
seated on the ground. Burial takes place on the day after death. The 
corpse is stretched out on the hammock. Its feet and head are decorated 
with urucu dye, and its face is painted black with genipa. The grave is 
dug in the dead man's house under the place where his hammock was 
usually hung. The body is buried in the hammock, which is set up in the 
grave between two poles. All contact with the earth is avoided. Personal 
possessions of the deceased are buried with him, except that all feather 
ornaments and bows and arrows are burned. 

Five days after the funeral, the relatives walk in file to the ceremonial 
hut, where they leave the spirit of the dead man. The wailing goes on for 
many days, sometimes months, and always takes place at sunset. Close- 
cropped hair is a token of mourning for both sexes. 


Art. — Obvious esthetic pleasure is derived from skillfully done basket- 
work; a good workman will destroy a basket which is not turning out 
well, even though it would serve as a receptacle. Great use is made of 
highly colored feathers; feathers are both tied and stuck with rosin and 
wax on to the object to be decorated. Elaborate geometric designs are 
painted on children's bodies with genipa. The incise work on gourds is 
also especially striking. 

Musical instruments. — Gourd rattles are frequently used to keep time 
to singing. No sacred powers are attributed to rattles. During the 
shamanistic ceremony (p, 177), a bamboo trunk is pounded against the 
ground in time to the music. 

Music. — By far the most important Tapirape pastime is singing, A man 
with a good voice and a large repertoire of songs is much admired by the 
community. All ceremonies are, basically, singing festivals. Each cere- 
mony during the year has a large set of specific songs : those to be sung 
by the shaman during the shamanistic "battle with Thunder" (p, 177) ; 


those for group singing during the harvest ceremonies and the ceremony 
of kawi (p. 176) ; those for the masked dancers during the dry season; 
and a very large number of songs specifically for the "Big Sing" 
(monikaho) during the latter part of the rainy season. During this 
period (approximately March through April), singing takes place 
throughout each night from sundown to sunrise. On these occasions, 
the singing leader and the men of one of the moieties introduce the verse 
of eacli song and the refrain is then taken up by the men of the other 
moiety and the women of the tribe. Women sing in a higher key than the 
men and, generally, a phrase behind the men. The songs of the masked 
dancers, each representing a supernatural being, differ stylistically from 
those used on other occasions in being sung in a falsetto tone, in a manner 
similar to that of the neighboring Carajd. Many such songs have been 
admittedly learned from the Carajd. 

Dancing. — Both men and women dance as they sing. In general, the 
Tapirape dance bending slightly forward, stamping out the time of the 
music with one foot. Dancing differs greatly, however, according to the 
occasion. During the harvest ceremonies, men dance in a line, side by 
side, each man's wife dancing directly behind him. During the group 
singing of the "Big Sing," the men dance in moiety groups facing each 
other, and women dance behind the moiety group of their husbands. On 
one occasion during this time, men dance with women, side by side, with 
a curious skipping step. 

Games. — Men's moieties run foot races against each other after the 
communal work festival (p. 168) ; they race in a straight line across the 
village plaza. Wrestling takes place at one wet-season ceremony, and, 
now and again, throughout the year as sport. The Tapirape explain, 
however, that the Carajd are better wrestlers and that it is more properly 
a Carajd sport. In wrestling, opponents stand face to face, grasping each 
other about the neck, and attempt to force or to trip the other to the 
ground. During one festival, men, one from each moiety at a time, 
compete by throwing blunt-headed spears at each other. Gambling games 
are unknown. 

Stimulants. — Native tobacco, though used for leisure-time smoking, is 
principally a stimulant and medicine. A Tapirape will not travel without 
a supply of tobacco to blow smoke over his tired body at the end of the 
day, in order to take out soreness and tiredness. Tobacco is necessary 
to shamans in all their activities. They blow tobacco smoke over the 
patient in curing (p. 177), and, to induce dreams and a trance, they 
swallow large gulps of smoke until they become intoxicated and nauseated. 
When people have seen ghosts, shamans fumigate them with tobacco 
smoke, in order to drive away the ghost's influence. Shamans fumigate 
new maize, the first honey of the season and, sometimes, fresh meat to 
drive out possible supernatural danger. This native tobacco is smoked 


by laymen in short tubular wooden or clay pipes and by shamans, in 
tubular clay pipes, sometimes 12 inches (30 cm.) long. 

The Tapir ape do not routinely plant tobacco as other crops. Occa- 
sionally, it is transplanted from scattered patches around the gardens and 
village to near the houses or gardens, but usually the patches merely seed 
themselves. A person who discovers a new patch, hastily surrounds it 
with a low fence to show his ownership of it. 

No alcoholic beverages are known to the Tapirape. Beverages made 
from manioc and maize are prepared as a food and are not allowed to 


Tapirape religion is based on the belief in two kinds of supernatural 
beings — disembodied souls of the dead, and malignant forest spirits of 
many kinds — both designated by one generic term, ancunga (spirit or 

The ancunga iiinwera, human spirits or ghosts (aria or anhanga among 
the Tupinamha), live in abandoned villages and frequently come near to 
the villages of the living "because they are cold" and try to warm them- 
selves close to the houses. The Tapirape are afraid of meeting them and 
try not to go out at night, when the ghosts most frequently appear. 

Souls of the dead continue to live for an undetermined period of time, 
then die and are transformed into animals. Anyone who hears the croak 
of a kururii frog {Pipa pipa) knows that it is the soul of a leader. A 
pigeon is the soul of a common man ; a paca, that of a woman. The souls 
of the shamans have a different fate ; they go to join Thunder. 

In addition to the souls of the dead, there is a large number of malig- 
nant beings, also called ancunga, who dwell in the forest. They are very 
dangerous and kill as many Tapirape as they find. Ware, a legendary 
hero and a great shaman, had the distinction of killing many ancunga, 
among whom were the awaku anka, by setting their long coarse hair on 
fire. The mumpianka were beings who killed men in order to drink their 
blood. Some of these forest spirits have become domesticated by the 
Tapirape, thanks to the powers of their shamans. Several times the 
Tapirape men dance with masks representing the visiting spirits (pi. 19, 
bottom, right). 

Rites. — The real ceremonial season is the rainy season, when the people 
are thrown together because they can neither farm nor hunt. Mask 
dances celebrate the visits of the various spirits (ancunga) to the men's 
house during the dry season. At the end of the rainy season the harvest 
ceremonial (kao) and the ceremony of kawi (a souplike beverage made 
of sweet manioc or of maize) are held. 

In the first few months of the rainy season, when the maize crop is 
threatened by electrical storms and by the first heavy rains, the shamans 


are called upon to fight Thunder. This, the important Tapirape ceremony, 
lasts for 4 days, and is the high point of shamanistic activity. 

Kanawana, the Thunder, lives on distant Maratawa surrounded by 
the souls of dead shamans and by the topii (probably equivalent to the 
Tupinamha word, "tupan"), small anthropomorphic beings whose bodies 
are covered with white hair. 

The topii travel through space in their canoes (half gourds), the sound 
of which produces the noise of the storm. The arrows which the topi 
shoot cause lightning. During the ceremony, the shamans, completely 
intoxicated by the tobacco and stimulated by the unceasing dancing and 
singing, fall into a trance (pi. 19, top, right) during which they travel 
to Thunder's house in order to fight him. Thunder sets the topii against 
the shamans, who, wounded by the arrows of "Thunder's creatures," 
fall into unconsciousness. 


The Tapirape can visualize the supernatural world through the reports 
of the dreams of their shamans, whose power grows in proportion to 
their ability to dream. A dream is a voyage, during which the soul frees 
itself of the body and travels through space. In these dreams the shamans 
travel to regions which are entirely unknown to the living, and in general 
are inhabited by spirits. With their powers, the shamans succeed in 
laming some of the spirits, who then become their familiar spirits. The 
power and prestige of the shaman (pance) depend on the number of 
his familiar spirits. 

The Tapirape speak of battles between shamans wherein each calls out 
his familiar spirits against the other while dreaming. More often, a 
shaman sets his familiar spirits upon laymen and kills them. A shaman 
may also kill his victim during a dream by throwing a mahgnant object, 
usually a piece of bone or a worm, into his body. 

The victims of sorcery appeal to friendly shamans, who attempt to 
cure them by extracting the malignant object by suction, massage, and 
blowing tobacco. When many deaths occur simultaneously and the 
Tapirape suspect a certain shaman of having caused them, they do not 
hesitate to kill him. One man recalled that during his lifetime 10 shamans 
suspected of sorcery had been killed. He himself had killed a shaman 
whom he suspected of having killed his brother. In spite of the constant 
suspicion surrounding them, the shamans do not employ mechanical tech- 
niques or sympathetic magic in sorcery. 

The shamans make great use of tobacco, which is essential for healing 
and dreaming. They smoke it in large tubular clay pipes. Cures usually 
take place at dusk. The shaman squats by the patient's hammock and 
smokes for a long time, becoming intoxicated and blowing the smoke 
from the pipe over the patient's body. He then massages the patient, 


rubbing toward the extremities of his body. If he fails to extract the 
malignant object in this fashion, he sucks it out, swallows it, then vomits 
it up. 

At one time, during an epidemic of fever, a shaman used a different 
method. He prepared a mixture of honey and water, and, after much 
smoking, spew^ed it out over the patients and on the houses where there 
were sick people. 

Besides healing, the shamans must protect the people against dangerous 
spirits (ancunga) ; they call forth "children's spirits" without which there 
can be no conception ; they prevent wild animals from harming the Tapi- 
rape during great hunting or fishing expeditions ; and they increase the 
number of peccaries in the woods. It is also believed that they divine 
the future in their dreams. 

The prestige of shamans is such among the Tapirape that almost all 
leaders of communities as well as of ceremonial moiety groups and house- 
hold heads are shamans. As shamans receive payment for successful 
cures, they accumulate many possessions which they redistribute at a 
yearly ceremonial. Liberality is essential to prestige in this society where 
avarice is particularly despised. 


Tapirape myths fall into two categories: legends telling of the deeds 
of ancestral heroes, and tales of animals. In the latter, the tortoise 
(Testudo tabulata) is noted for his shrewdness in his dealings with the 
other animals of the jungle. These stories follow the general Tupi 

Among the various Tapirape heroes are Apuwenonu and Petura. The 
former descended from heaven and lived with the Tapirape. He taught 
them to plant and harvest cotton, manioc, and maize. When he was old, 
Apuwenonu returned to heaven and changed himself into a star, 

Petura stole fire from the buzzards and brought light to the Tapirape, 
who until then had not seen day. It is also told of Petura that he stole 
hatchets and knives from the emu and gave them to the Tapirape. 

Txawanamii is famous for a series of songs which tell of his adventures 
among the mythical ampiiawa, enemies of the Tapirape, who made him 
die a lingering death. Wancina, a great shaman, had his whole house, 
including his family and belongings, transported to heaven by Kanawana, 
the Thunder. Ware was another shaman who killed many dangerous 
forest spirits. 


Baldus, 1935, 1937; Bigorre, 1916, 1917; Metraux, 1927; Wagley, 1940 a, 1940 b, 
1943 b. 

By William Lipkind 


The Caraja are a river people who since pre-Columbian times have held 
as the central portion of their territory the inland Island of Bananal, which 
is formed by the great fork of the Araguaya River (lat. 8°-17° S., long. 
48°-52° W., map 1, No. 1; see Volume 1, map 7). They must be re- 
garded as an independent linguistic family for the present ; their language 
displays no convincing similarities to any other recorded South American 

The term "Caraja" is used to designate the entire people as well as 
the largest of the three tribal divisions ; the other two are the Shambiod 
and the Javahe. The Caraja proper have 20 villages on the western or 
main branch of the Araguaya River, widely spread from Leopoldina south 
of Bananal clear down to the end of the Island. The Shambiod, now 
nearly extinct, have only two villages left, a little way below Conceicao. 
The eight villages of the Javahe lie on the eastern or minor branch of 
the Araguaya River and on the small streams within Bananal. The gen- 
eral location and the relative sizes of the three groups have remained 
the same since the earliest times. 

The native names give some notion of intergroup attitudes. All three 
groups regard themselves as a single people and use a name meaning 
"we" to distinguish themselves from other tribes. The Caraja proper are 
called the "great people" by the other two groups. The Shambiod are 
the "companion people." The Javahe are called by a name which is used 
generally to mean "Indian" and bears the pejorative connotation "back- 
woodsman" or "hick." There is a possible analysis which makes it the 
"old people" but, even if this etymology is correct, the word no longer has 
that meaning. 

Dialectical differences are slight and other differences not very great, 
with the Shambiod occupying a middle position culturally between the 
other two groups. This account is based on field work with the Carajd 
proper and refers to the other groups only where they exhibit important 

^ The present description of the Caraja is based on the author's field work during 1937, done 
under the auspices of the Department of Anthropology, Columbia University. 




Large circular hollows in the ground are found at various points in 
Carajd territory, always in the close vicinity of a stream. By tradition 
these are ancient cemeteries ; of old, they say, people did not mourn at a 
funeral but held a feast in the hollow. One of these hollows located on 
the height above the river bank at Fontoura is 18 m. (about 58 ft.) 
long, 15 m. (about 50 ft.) wide, and 1^ m. (5 ft.) deep at its center. The 
mound forming the northern side was excavated, disclosing two lines of 
burials with associated pottery, bone labrets, and beads. 

The pottery is very similar to modern Carajd pottery and the labrets 
are exactly like those now in the possession of the Carajd. The cemetery 
cannot, however, definitely be identified as Carajd. The present-day 
Carajd cemetery is different in location and ground plan. There is now 
secondary urn burial, and in the first burial the bodies are laid at right 
angles to the river rather than parallel as were those disclosed by the 
excavation. Still, the remains show even less resemblance to the Ge and 
Tupi peoples in the neighborhood. The question must be left open for 
further archeological study. 


Since the earliest times, the Carajd have been at war with their Ge and 
Tupi neighbors. The sole exception is the Tapirape, with whom at one 
time the Javahe maintained close and friendly relations. The Shambiod 
were the first to come in contact with the Neo-Brazilians early in the 17th 
century. Contact with the Carajd proper must have begun shortly after the 
founding of Santa Anna by Bartholomeu Bueno in 1682. The Carajd are 
on good terms with the Neo-Brazilians, trading skins and fish for clothing, 
beads, knives, axes, guns, sugar, and salt. 

Population. — According to the census made by the author in 1939, the 
Carajd number 1,510, divided as follows: Carajd proper, 795; Javahe, 
650 ; Shambiod, 65. These figures should be contrasted with Castelnau's 
(1850-59) count in 1845 of 2,000 Shambiod in four villages, and his esti- 
mate of a total of 100,000 Carajd, and with Krause's (1911) estimate of 
10,000 Carajd in 1908. 



Farming. — Clearings are made in the thick forest along the water- 
courses. Gardens must be so located as to be accessible by canoe in the 
dry season and yet not flooded in the rainy season. The scarcity of such 
land results in some of the plots being several miles distant from the village. 
Proximity to fishing grounds is generally held to be more important. The 
work of clearing is begun in May at the beginning of the dry season. Maize 


is planted in September, when the first rains come, and manioc shortly 
after. There is little cultivation beyond weeding. The basic crop is 
manioc, both the sweet and bitter varieties being cultivated, with maize 
next in importance. Four varieties each of sweet and bitter manioc and 
10 varieties of maize are cultivated. Other crops are: Five varieties of 
potatoes, two varieties of cara, four varieties of watermelon, three varieties 
of squash, four varieties of beans, and ten varieties of bananas, as well 
as peanuts, urucu, tobacco, cotton, calabashes, sugarcane, yams, peppers, 
pineapples, and papayas. Men do all the work with a little assistance in 
harvesting and weeding from older women. The Javahe are more in- 
dustrious farmers than the other Carajd, cultivating extensive plantations. 

Collecting. — ^A large number of vegetable products are gathered for use 
as food, medicine, and raw material for manufacture, but only a few are 
of great importance. The babassu and the buriti palms, used for food and 
textile materials, are among the most valuable. The taquara reed is 
sought after for arrows. Turtle eggs are a significant item of food during 
the dry season. Honey is indispensable for feasting. 

Huntingf. — Although the Carajd are passionate hunters, very few of the 
animals available in the region are eaten. Only the peccary is really sought 
and constitutes a sizable item in the larder. The other animals that are 
eaten — the cutia, coati, woodsdeer, monkey, iguana, and a few birds, such 
as the mutum, jao, and jacu — are killed when encountered but are not 
eaten by everyone. Peccaries are hunted in a communal drive, the most 
favorable time being shortly after the beginning of the rainy season when 
large droves are trapped on islands. 

The chief purpose of hunting is to get feathers, and the most desirable 
birds are the various parrots, herons, the male stork, and the flamingo. 
The nesting of valuable birds is carefully watched, and the young are 
stolen and tamed. Feathers stored in small baskets almost constitute a 
currency, because they are readily negotiable at all times and maintain 
a stable value. 

The principal weapons are the bow and club. The bow, made of a 
variety of woods but with a preference for juari when available, is round 
in cross section and about 6 feet (2 m.) long. The arrow is preferably 
of taquara reed and variously tipped with wood, animal bone, or fish bone. 
Clubs are beautifully fashioned of heavy hardwood, decorated with delicate 
carving, and are swung and thrown with equal skill. The lance is now 
used only for ceremonial purposes. 

Fishing. — Fish is the most important food supply. Trapping and drug- 
ging fish with timbo is a communal affair ; individuals fish with the bow 
and arrow. There is occasional night fishing, with spearing by torchlight. 
The pirarucu is killed by harpoon. The hook and line is little used, and 
apparently was borrowed recently from the Neo-Brazilians. 

Food preparation. — Manioc is peeled, grated, squeezed out by hand, 
and cooked into a soup. When the soup cools, it is masticated for a few 



[B.A.B. Bull. 143 

minutes, then allowed to stand for a while. The resulting fermentation 
is not allowed to continue long enough to produce an intoxicating drink. 
This soup, along with a similar soup made of maize, is a daily staple. 
Manioc and ground maize are also made into cakes, but this is a holiday 
variation of diet rather than the staff of life as in other regions. The 
standard methods of cooking meat, fish, and vegetables are boiling, roast- 
ing on a spit, roasting on a grate, and roasting in the embers. Occasion- 
ally, some vegetables are baked in hot sand. Maize is the only food that 
is stored. On platform shelves at the top of their rainy-season houses, the 
Javahe pile a supply of maize dried on the cob sufficient to last throughout 
the dry season. 


The permanent or rainy-season village is erected on a high bank over- 
looking the river. One or two rows of houses face the river, and the men's 
house, about 50 feet (15.2 m.) back, faces down river. All the space 
between the men's house and the family houses is kept perfectly clean and 
constitutes the dancing plaza of the village. The surrounding clearing 
extends only a few yards in all directions. All neighboring forest which 
must be traversed in hunting or gathering is threaded by well-marked 
trails. A path leads down from the center of the village to the main port 
where women, married men, and children bathe, and married men land 
their canoes. Another path cuts diagonally down from tlie men's house 
to the bachelor's port where the young men bathe and visitors to the 
masked dances land their canoes. 

The house is rectangular in ground plan with supported horizontal 
ridge poles (fig. 18). Saplings are sunk into the ground at the sides and 

Figure 18. — Carajd house frame. (Redrawn from Ehrenreich, 1891 b, fig. 3.) 

bent over to the ridge pole at the top, where they are firmly tied with bast. 
Then the whole structure is tightly thatched with successive overlapping 
layers of palm frond tied to the ^aphngs (pi. 20,. top). The entrance is a 
small rectangular opening at the bottom, through which one crawls after 

Vol. 3] 



pushing aside a door of plaited palm. Every married woman in the family 
cooks at her own fireplace, which consists of two lumps of hardened clay. 
Mats used for sleeping and sitting are spread over the entire floor. 
Wooden stools (fig. 19) may also be found. Bows, arrows, and rattles 

Figure 19. — Carajd wooden stool. (Redrawn from Ehrenreich, 1891 b, fig. 13.) 

are shoved into the wall thatch. Baskets, used for storing such things as 
tobacco, urucu, and feathers, are hung by a string from the ridge poles. 
Large baskets containing vegetables lie on the ground next to the thatch. 
The dry-season house is identical in form but smaller and of flimsier 
construction. Thatching is looser and the walls are thatched only about 
halfway to the ground, the north and west sides often being left com- 
pletely open. The dry-season village is generally constructed on a long 
beach and, as the site grows dirty, is moved along the beach. The ground 
plan of the dry-season village is identical with the rainy-season village. 


The most prominent facial decoration is a blue-black circular scarifica- 
tion about an inch in diameter over each cheekbone. The ears of infants 
are pierced and an ornament consisting of a small polished capybara tooth 
with a feather attached is inserted. A common ear ornament for children 
is a mother-of-pearl disk with a cut feather fringe set on a blackened thin 
rod. In a perforation of their lower lips, men wear wood or bone labrets 
of a variety of shapes (pi. 21 ; fig. 21, a), each assigned to a different age 
grade; old men use simple wooden plugs. 

Men wear their hair long, winding it round a plaited cotton rope red- 
dened with urucu. Women wear their hair about shoulder length. 

Armlets crocheted of cotton are worn at the wrists and just above the 
elbow ; similar ornaments are worn just below the knee and at the ankle. 
These are worn particularly by children and are supposed to aid growth. 



[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

Young men wear large armlets almost 12 inches (30 cm.) long crocheted 
of cotton with hanging fringes. 

Women wear a bark-cloth girdle, which is wound round the body and 
under the crotch and looped over, hanging down in front. Feather head- 
dresses of a number of different designs are worn by men on festal occa- 
sions. Men tie the prepuce with a firmly wound string and wear a string 

Elaborately decorated woven belts with hanging ema feathers are worn 
for wrestling matches. Bird down is glued on the shoulders, arms, and 
legs. Body painting is very elaborate, and designs covering the entire 
body are carefully executed with genipa. Urucii is spread generally, with 
accents on the cheekbones, the nose, and the upper arm. 


The Carajd manufacture elongated dugouts, neatly adapted to landing 
and freeing their craft among the sandbanks. 


Bark cloth. — Bark cloth is made of Apeiba bast, soaked, beaten with 
flat stones, and dried until it becomes very soft and white. 

Figure 20. — Carajd manufactures, a-d, Pottery; e, wooden scoop. (Redrawn from 
Ehrenreich, 1891 b, figs. 5 and 14.) 

Vol. 3] 



Basketry. — The Carajd excel in the variety and solidity of their plait- 
work, which includes burden baskets, strainers, shoulder bags, bottles, 
elliptical feather cases, and boat-shaped containers for suspension. Twill- 
ing and twining are the dominant techniques (pi. 22). 

Textiles. — The Carajd produce some taffetalike fabrics, but in 1775 
Pinto da Fonseca found them using cotton solely for fish nets and bow- 
strings, so that he himself introduced a loom and taught the women how 
to work it. 

Featherwork. — In contrast to their Ge neighbors of Eastern Brazil, the 
Carajd are outstanding for featherwork. They make wide-meshed and 
close-meshed caps with feathers tied to the intersection of the interlaced 
splints and arranged into rosettes, diadems of feathers stuck into radially 
mounted cane tubes, and other types of ornaments (pi. 21). 

Axes. — Stone axes figure in old Carajd petroglyphs and have been found 
by many travelers in the area. They were used for adzing, chopping, and 
warfare, and as chief's badges. Iron axes have rapidly replaced them. 

FiGjRE 21. — Carajd manufactures, a, Labrets; b, comb; c, pipe. (Approximately ^ 
actual size.) (Redrawn from Ehrenreich, 1891 b, figs. 2, 9, and 4.) 


Weapons. — The Caraja use bows and arrows (pis. 20, bottom, left; 
21, left and center), and their mythology indicates aboriginal use of the 
spear thrower for hunting monkeys. Recently, they have used a spear 
thrower of the upper Xingu River type for sport. 

Pottery. — Pottery vessels include several forms of plain ware (fig. 20). 


The kinship structure may be described as double descent. Both lines 
are important, the greater emphasis falling on the mother's line, and both 
lines serve different functions. Village citizenship, adoption, and the 
closest affectional ties are reckoned in the mother's line. Moiety member- 
ship and the offices of chief, priest, and food-divider are patrilineally 

The fundamental unit of social organization is the village. Every 
village has one or more iolo, children of chiefly line, designated by the 
chief for preferential treatment by the members of the village. The chief 
names the iolo who is to succeed him or, if he fails to do so, the village 
makes the choice at his death. Girls of chiefly line are similarly chosen 
for preferential treatment ; each of them is known as the "hidden woman." 
There is some indication that women functioned as chiefs in former 
times, but today there is no woman chief. The chief has no coercive 
powers but directs the village by recognizing the will of the majority in 
such matters as the selection of camp and garden sites and the announce- 
ment of a move at change of season. His principal function is to act 
as peacemaker, and people readily submit to his adjudication. Because 
of the importance of religious ceremonials, the priest and the shaman 
frequently exercise more authority than the chief. When all three offices 
are vested in a single individual, his authority may be considerable, but 
it is kept in check by the right of a discontented person to move at any 
time to another village. 

Within the village the important unit is the household. Residence 
being matrilocal, a household. consists of sisters, their husbands, children, 
and the husbands of grown daughters. Marriage is restricted to one's 
own generation, the preferred mate being a cousin on the mother's side. 
There is no sanction but ridicule against wrong marriages, and there 
are many cases of cross-generational marriage. Marriage is predomi- 
nantly monogamous, but a few instances of polygyny and one of poly- 
andry were encountered. The avunculate is very important and involves 
many social and especially ceremonial duties. Cooperation in the house- 
hold is close and in the village fairly close. In addition, villages are 
grouped together in ceremonial units, generally consisting of three or 
four neighboring villages, which celebrate important feasts jointly. This 
ceremonial unit acts as an insurance group when a village's crop fails 
or its fish supplies grow scarce. Beyond this, the only intervillage ties 



Plate 20.— Caraja house and physical types. Top: House. (Courtesy Uni- 
versity Museum, Philadelphia.) Bottom, left: Warriors. Bottom, right- Girls 
(After Ehrenreich, 1891 b.) 


Plate 22. — Caraja paddles, gourds, and basketry. (After Ehrenreich, 1891 b. 


are the product of intermarriage and formal friendship. Intervillage 
feuds are common and are restrained only by the religious community, 
sanctuary being granted at all religious ceremonials. 


All dealings with visitors are conducted according to elaborate formal 
patterns. The language is rich in formal appellations, exclamations, and 
honorific phrases. The most remarkable feature is that women are per- 
mitted to behave with perfect freedom, whereas men, until they become 
fathers, behave with a shy and deferential modesty resembling but exceed- 
ing that of the Victorian maiden. Normal relations between members 
of the same village are formal and dignified; only in the men's house 
or on fishing and hunting trips is the behavior of men relaxed enough 
to permit horseplay and casual joking. 


Childbirth and Childhood. — The child gets two sets of names, one 
male and one female, as soon as the mother is known to be pregnant. These 
are one's own names given by grandparents of both lines. Taboos in 
regard to diet and behavior are required of both parents before and after 
birth. There is a well-developed couvade based on the notion of an 
intimate connection between the infant and its father. Babies are nursed 
until they turn to other food of their own volition; sometimes ridicule 
is used as a sanction against particularly recalcitrant children. No inter- 
course is allowed during the period of lactation. Babies are carried on 
the hip, and sleep with the mother until weaning, when they are paired 
off with other children or with a grandparent. The girl child wears 
no clothing until weaned and then receives a fringed belt. 

Puberty and initiations. — At menstruation, a girl's cheeks are scari- 
fied and she assumes the girdle. 

A boy passes through a first initiation at about the age of 8 or 9, 
when his lower lip is pierced and a small bone labret inserted. A couple 
of years later, he passes through a second initiation, when his hair is 
cut short to a tonsure, his entire body is stained black with genipa, and 
he assumes the penis cord. When his hair has grown out to shoulder 
length, it is put up in a braid, and he attains full status as a young man. 

The next change of status for both boys and girls occurs at marriage, 
when, for the first time, they take on the responsibilities of regular work. 
Teknonymy is a matter of pride and follows the birth of the first child. 
The name is retained permanently thereafter, even though the child should 
die. At about 45 both parents discard their ornaments and accept the 
status of old age. All the above age grades are named and involve dif- 
ferential behavior and dietary observances. 

653333 — 47—15 



[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

Death. — At death, the soul becomes a wild ghost if the person has been 
violently killed and a regular resident of the village of the dead if he 
has suffered a quiet death. A shaman's soul is translated to the skies. 
Mourning puts an end to all religious ceremonies and is celebrated by 
self -laceration, the destruction of property, and daily keening. There 
is separate burial in formal cemeteries for those who died quietly and 
those who died violently. The corpse is wrapped in a mat with his 
weapons and ornaments, and the mat is hung in a shallow grave covered 
by poles (fig. 22). Food and drink are provided for a short period. 
After the next change of season, the bones are exhumed and placed in 
a family urn. 

Figure 22. — Carajd burial. (Redrawn from Ehrenreich, 1891 b, fig. 16) 


The Carajd are good fighters and have maintained themselves since 
prehistoric times in a territory surrounded on all sides by warlike enemies. 
Their usual tactics are waiting outside an enemy village at night and 
attacking at dawn. In defense, they run to the nearest water, where they 
are unbeatable. They use the bow and arrow and club, and are skilled 
wrestlers. They cut ofif a foot bone of a dead enemy and carry it back 
to their village; this places them in control of the ghost, who now be- 
comes a caretaker of the village and is impersonated in a special dry- 
season ceremony. At one such ceremony there were two Tapirape ghosts, 
three Chavante, one Cayapo, and one Neo-Brazilian. Present-day war- 
fare is largely with the Chavante, the Cayapo, and the Canoeiro. Now 
and then a Neo-Brazilian may be killed by stealth to avenge a personal 
grievance. No captives are taken except women and small children, 
who are treated as full members of the group. 


Art. — Decorative art is confined to woven designs on baskets and mats, 
feather ornaments, elaborate masks with superimposed feather designs, 

Vol. 3] 





Figure 23.—Carajd wax and clay dolls. (Redrawn from Ehrenreich, 1891 b, pi. 12.) 



[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

small clay dolls (fig. 23), delicately carved clubs, body paint designs, 
and a little painting and incising of pottery. 

0^1 "il 


Figure 24. — Carajd masks. (Redrawn from Ehrenreich, 1891 b, figs. 18, 22.) 

Music and dances. — The major art of the Carajd is music. A large 
number of elaborate dances with complex songs, each dance having a 
separate song style, make up the chief body of the music. These are 
all religious. In addition, there are some secular dances, and songs are 
interspersed in the tales. Musical instruments are very few, there being 
only a rattle accompanying the singers and a small flute which is used 
as a toy. 


Games. — Of numerous games, the most important is a formal wrestling 
match which is an indispensable part of most religious ceremonies and 
of all intervillage visits. 

Narcotics and stimulants. — Like the other tribes in this region, the 
Carajd have no alcoholic beverages. They smoke tobacco in short cylindri- 
cal pipes (fig. 21, c). They are heavy smokers, some of the children 
beginning before they are weaned. 


Cults. — Carajd religion consists of two distinct cults : a cult of the dead 
and a mask cult (fig. 24). The cult of the dead, which is under the 
direction of the priest, has for its object the placation of ghosts by a 
periodical ceremonial which comes to its climax in several large calendrical 
feasts. The most important of these feasts is the Big House Feast, 
which is celebrated shortly after the beginning of the rainy season. All 
the villages which comprise a ceremonial unit come to the one village 
where the feast is conducted. There is a great mass of ceremonial 
addressed to various classes of ghosts, but the central portion of the 
ceremony is the impersonation of animal ghosts. Another important 
feast, already mentioned, occurs at the height of the dry season and is 
directed toward the control of enemy ghosts. Two other feasts held 
in the dry season are chiefly for the entertainment of the ancestors. 

The mask cult is concerned with the worship of another class of 
supernaturals. It consists of an elaborate routine of feasts, interrupted 
only by death. In these feasts, conducted by the shaman, the super- 
naturals are impersonated in the complex dances mentioned above. 

The two cults are independent of each other and are both strictly 
men's cults. Any women intruding upon the secrets of the cults is sub- 
jected to gang rape and remains a wanton thereafter. 

Shamanism. — A shaman is trained by apprenticeship to an older 
shaman. A certain amount of medical lore is taught but the essence of 
the training is learning how to communicate with supernaturals in a state 
of trance. 

There is a considerable amount of sorcery. The main technique is 
bottling a supernatural being into a small image and then directing it into 
the body of the victim. As almost all deaths are interpreted as the result 
of sorcery, feuding is continual. 

Castlenau, 1850-59; Ehrenreich, 1891 b; Krause, 1911, 


By Curt Nimuendaju 


Turiwara ("those of the Turi" — the meaning of Turi is unknown) is 
the name used by this tribe and by the Temhe (map 1, No. 1 ; see 
Volume 1, map 7). The Amanaye say Turiwd or Turiwa. 

The Turiwara language is a Tupian dialect of the He- group, and 
scarcely differs from the Urubu dialect, which has suggested the possi- 
bility that the two tribes are local divisions of one people. That there 
isi a river named Tury in the present habitat of the Urubu, and that an 
Urubu group is called "Turkvara" is no proof of this possibility. Be- 
cause the Urubu migrated to the Tury River, from Maranhao, only at the 
beginning of the 20th century, whereas the Turiwara had left Maranhao 
half a century earlier, the Urubu band named Turiwara can have no 
connection with the Turiwara tribe. 

The first record of the Turiwara language is a list of personal names 
and their explanations compiled by Meerwarth (1904), who, however, 
confused forms of the Lingua Geral with those of the Turiwara dialect. 
The only published vocabulary consists of 103 words (Nimuendaju, 
1914 c). 

In the 18th century, a tribe named Turiwara was noted on the lower Tocantins 
(Ribeiro de Sampalo, 1812, p. 8; Villa Real, 1848, p. 431). (Lat. 4°S., long. 48°W.) 
It spoke Tupian, judging by the names of their two chiefs in 1793 : Tatahi (tata-i, 
"little fire") and Areuanaju (arawana = a fish, Ichnosoma sp. + yu, suffix for 
persons' names). 

According to Temhe tradition, the Turiwara crossed the Gurupi River from the 
present State of Maranhao shortly after the Temhe, probably between 1840 and 
1850. In 1862, they lived in three villages on the Capim River below the Acarajugaua 
Rapids : Suagupepora with 30 persons, Cauaxy with 15, and Cariucaua with 60. In 
1871, the Pracateua Mission (Assumpgao) was founded on the Capim River with 
500 (600?) Temhe and Turiwara. The following year, the murder of the missionary 
to the Amanaye put an end to the Christianization (see p. 200). (Cunha, 1852, p. 82; 
Brusque, 1862, p. 12; Cruz, 1874, p. 47; Souza Franco, 1842.) This evidently 
prompted the Turiwara to move from the Capim River mission to the Acara 
Grande River, where, in 1868, a large part of the tribe had already been established 
near Miritipirange (Gama Malcher, 1878, p. 102). In 1885, there were 100 Turiivara 
here, and 71 more on the left bank of the Acara Pequeno (Baena, 1885, p. 28). In 



1899, Meerwarth (1904), the sole source of ethnographic information about the 
Turiwara, visited the tribe on the Acara Grande River. They lived then in 8 places 
below the Grande Rapids. In 1914, they numbered about 100, and all were on the 
Acara Grande. In 1942, only 14 survived (Arquivos da Inspectoria do Servigo de 
Protecgao aos Indios). 

The Turiwara were, according to Meerwarth, visited from time to time by mer- 
chants (regatoes), mostly Portuguese, traveling in canoes. The merchants cheated 
the Indians outlandishly (Meerwarth, 1904). 


Farming. — Manioc, cotton, urucu, and some bananas and oranges were 

Houses. — The house was a long, rectangular building with gabled 
roof and ridge pole. It had no walls. 

Clothing. — The Turiwara wore clothes of civilized origin, but most of 
the time they went about with the upper portion of their bodies unclothed. 

Transportation. — Houses were connected by overland paths. For 
river travel, the Turiwara had dugout canoes of the "casco" type, which 
were hollowed and the side walls spread more widely apart by heating 
inside and out over a fire and stretching. This is also the Neo-Brazilian 
type. Some canoes had shields fore and aft. The paddle had a crutch 

Manufactures. — Meerwarth (1904) lists manufactured objects : Pans 
for flour making, baskets woven of timbo, carrying baskets woven of 
liana with straps for hanging from the head and other straps for hanging 
from the shoulders, painted and unpainted pottery, beautiful hammocks of 
cotton dyed with urucii, gourds (Lagenaria) for holding water and others 
for beverages, braziers which at night they put under their hammocks for 
warmth, bows and arrows for fishing, rifles for hunting, bush knives, and 
iron axes. The women made the hammocks and pottery. The men 
hunted, fished, helped with flour making, and cut wood. 

Social Usages. — The Turiwara were monogamous, though a chief for- 
merly had several wives. A girl's father or, if she had no father, her 
older relatives gave her in marriage without consulting her wishes. The 
Turiwara practiced the couvade. 

Meerwarth (1904) lists a series of men's and women's names which, 
without exception, were nicknames, not true surnames, and referred to 
the person's favorite food or to some amusing physical or mental 

Accompanied by loud monotonous singing and the music of taboca 
flutes and clarinets (tore) made of the trunk of Cecropia, groups of 
Turiwara danced slowly, always singing the same refrain. 

See Amanaye bibliography, page 202. 



In the 17th century, the Arua {Arouen, Aroua) occupied the north- 
eastern part of Mara j 6 Island (for Mara j 6 archeology, see this volume, 
pp. 153-159), the islands of the estuary of the Amazon including Caviana, 
and perhaps part of the mainland on the left bank of the estuary. Later, 
they withdrew in part to Brazilian Guiana and the adjacent region of 
French Guiana. This zone consists almost entirely of lakes and flood- 

Vifiaza (1892) mentions no less than seven works in and on the Arua 
language, written in the 18th century. Fr. Joaquim da Conceigao wrote 
two religious texts ; Fr. Joao de Jesus, a religious text and a grammar ; 
and Fr. Boaventura de Santo Antonio, a grammar. All these have been 
lost. In 1877 in the village of Afua (Marajo), Penna (1881) compiled 
a vocabulary given by the last Arua of the place, a shaman of about 75. 
Penna thought the language was Carihan, but it is clearly Arawakan, 
though quite different from that of the true Arawak of the Guiana Coast 
and of the Palicur. In 1926 on the Uaga River, the present author found 
no one who spoke the Arua language. Two old Indians, however, gave a 
list of 30 vocables. 

O'Brian del Carpio (ms.), who entered the estuary of the Amazon in 
1621, was the first to mention the name Arua. On Sipinipoco Island (i.e., 
Sapanapok or Caviana, or else one of the adjacent islands?) he learned 
the language which "they themselves called Arrua." Laet's map (1899) 
made 4 years later is the first to record an Arouen Island (i.e., Curua or 
another one near it?). At the same time, Des Forest (1899) mentions 
near Cabo do Norte several Arouen villages of "Indians who wear their 
hair long like women." Later writings and maps distinguish Joanes 
Island (i.e., Marajo) and the Aruans Island or Islands. 

The Arua appeared for the first time in the history of Marajo in 1643 
when a ship was wrecked on the Para River. Father Luiz Figueira and 
other passengers reached the coast of Marajo, where they were killed and 
devoured by the Arua (Moraes, 1860). Berredo (1905, 2:66), how- 
ever, who likes to emphasize the "barbarity and ferocity" of the Indians, 
states that Figueira and others were drowned, and that nine others reached 
Marajo Island, where six of them were killed, but he does not say eaten, 
by the Arua. It seems that the Arua and the other tribes on Marajo 
Island were always hostile to the Portuguese of Belem, although they 
maintained friendly relations and commerce through the estuary of the 
Amazon with other nations, especially the Dutch. Father Antonio Vieira 
(1735-46, 1 :135-136) emphasizes several times that the blame for this 
hostility lay with the Portuguese. By 1654, the Arua and "Nheengayba" 
threatened the vicinity of the city of Belem itself (Berredo 1905, 2:95), 


and an expedition was sent against them. (See also Bettendorf, 1910, 
p. 112.) 

These tribes rejected all offers of peace and pardon, and, although 
Berredo stated that the war was ended with the "fatal annihilation of the 
barbarians," another armed expedition was in preparation 4 years later. 
Meanwhile, in 1652, Father Antonio Vieira had succeeded in having the 
laws sanctioning Indian slavery abolished. He informed the Indians of 
this and succeeded in making peace before the expedition went afield. 
Among the tribes which in 1659 solemnly made peace on the Mapua River 
and on Marajo were the Arud and their chief Piye (Peyhe), whose village 
was in Rebordello, on the eastern point of Caviana Island (Vieira, 1735- 
46, 1 :135, 151-169). The war was over and Christianization began, but 
the Arua and other Marajo Indians began to migrate to Guiana. The fol- 
lowing century is marked by this migration and by the Portuguese effort 
to prevent it. 

The peace had but a limited effect, probably because the Jesuits, after 
a popular uprising in 1661, were compelled to stop enforcing the laws of 
1652. In 1698, a number of the Arud were declared "undesirable on the 
Northern coast because they were too friendly to the enemy" (the Dutch) 
and were expatriated to Maranhao (Bettendorf, 1910, p. 663). 

In 1701 there was another great conflict with the Arud of Marajo Island, 
who were established in three villages near the mouth of the Paraguary 
(Soure) River by Fr. Jose de Santa Maria, In the absence of the mis- 
sionary, they were ill-treated by the residents of Belem and by the gov- 
ernor himself, Fernao Carrilho, and left their villages. Upon his return, 
the missionary and Fr. Martinho da Conceigao went up the Paraguary 
River (Rio de Soure) to repair the damage, but the Indians killed them. 
The following year, a punitive expedition of 60 soldiers and 200 Indians 
captured some 200 Arud. The murderers of the two priests were executed 
in Belem. (Southey, 1862, 5:90; Berredo, 1905, 2:399; Rocha Pombo, 
1905, 6:338.) The same year the Arud of Ganhoao (north coast of 
Marajo) were transferred to the village of the Aroaquis on the Urubu 
River, in the present State of Amazonas. With Arud from the Cabo do 
Norte, another village was founded near Belem (Caia or Monsaras?), 
but the missionary was not able to prevent the escape of the Indians 
(Annaes da Bibliotheca ... I, Nos. 79, 85). 

Twenty years later, the Arud who had escaped to Guiana and obtained 
French support, took the offensive against the Portuguese under a chief 
named Koymara (Guayama, Guama). They attacked the Portuguese 
settlements and for one year occupied the village of Moribira, 45 kilo- 
meters north of Belem. (Rio-Branco, 1899, 2:53, 90, 101; Guajara, 
1896, p. 166; Coudreau, H., 1886-87, 1:220.) These hostilities lasted 
at least until 1727. 


From 1738 to 1744, Father Lombard gathered the Maraon and Arua, 
fugitives from the Portuguese missions, in the Ouanari mission, French 
Guiana (Coudreau, H., 1895, p. 274). In 1743, Barrere recorded the 
presence of Arua to the south of Mineur River (Amapa Grande?), stating 
that they had outstanding ability as seamen. From 1784 to 1798, the 
Portuguese depopulated the entire coast between the Amazon and the 
Oyapock, taking the fugitive Indians to Para. As trade invariably attracted 
the Indians to the French, it was essential that the Portuguese depopulate 
a zone between Para and Cayena (Coudreau, H., 1886-87, 1:224). 
Despite great dangers, however, a large part of the prisoners returned 
in their fragile canoes to their refuge in Guiana. It was probably at this 
time that part of the Arua settled on the Uaga River. The persecutions 
stopped in the 19th century. 

The Indians in Marajo disappeared during the first half of the 19th 
century. In 1793, Arua were transferred from Chaves (north coast of 
Marajo) to the lower Tocantins, where the village of Murii was founded 
for them between the present Patos and Alcobaga (Almeida Pinto, 1906, 
p. 188). Rebordello counted 279 Indians in 1816, but the last Arua of 
Marajo and neighboring islands disappeared, probably in consequence of 
the revolt of the Cabanos, 1834—36. A nucleus of Arua and Galihi, how- 
ever, settled in Uaga, completely under French influence. With them were 
also some Maraon, Palicur, and Itutan, and French Creoles, Chinese, 
Arabs, and Brazilian Mestizos. In 1854, Father Dabbadie refers to 80 
Aroua on the Uaqa River, and in 1891 H. Coudreau (1886) mentions 100. 
In 1925, when the present author spent some time among the 160 Indians 
of the Uaga River, the Arua component was much more reduced than the 
Galihi. There was no longer any vestige of the other Indian components, 
and the only language used was French Creole. 


When the Galihi and the Arua gathered on the Uaga River, they prob- 
ably brought very little of their own original culture, for both had been 
influenced for nearly a century by the missionaries and other civilized 
people. In consequence, they were greatly influenced by the Palicur, a 
still relatively strong and intact tribe who had become their neighbors. 
The little Indian culture that they still possess is practically identical to 
that of the Palicur. Otherwise, their culture is adopted from the French 
Creoles of Guiana and, to a lesser degree, from the Brazilians. The Servigo 
de Protecgao aos Indios maintains a station among them. 

There is nothing in the literature on the original culture of the Arua. 
The paleoethnological (archeological) material in the urn cemeteries of 
the region do not lead to any precise conclusion. On Caviana Island, 


stronghold of the Arud during the last phase of their ethnic existence, the 
author investigated five urn cemeteries in 1925. Three of these contained 
glass beads and other European objects. In historic times, only the Arud 
are known to have inhabited the island, but the style of urn is very dif- 
ferent in the three sites mentioned, and there is no certainty as to which 
one belongs to the Arud. Only one thing is common to all: secondary 
burial in urns. 


Almeida Pinto, 1906; Annaes . . .; Ayres de Cazal, 1817; Baena, 1839, 1885; 
Barrere, 1743 ; Berredo, 1905 ; Bettendorf , 1910 ; Coudreau, H., 1886-87, 1893 ; Forest, 
1899; Guajara, 1896; Laet, 1899; Lettres edifiantes et curieuses, 1838 (1780-83); 
Lombard, 1928; Moraes, 1860; Nimuendaju, 1926; O'Brian del Carpio, ms. ; Penna, 
1881 ; Rio Branco, 1899 ; Rocha Pombo, 1905 ; Southey, 1862 ; Texeyra, 1640 ; Vieira, 
1735^16 ; Vinaza, 1892. 


By Curt Nimuendaju and Alfred Metraux 


The names Amanajo, Manajo, and Manaxo were used in Maranhao, in 
Piauhy, and on the lower Tocantins ; Amanage in Para. Mananye is the 
name given by the Turiwara; Manasewa by the Tembe. The self-denom- 
ination, Manaye or Amanaye, has uncertain meaning, but may be Guarani, 
amandaye, an "association of people," or amanaje, "alcoviteiro" (Platz- 
mann, 1896). In order to conceal their identity, some groups assumed 
the name of Ararandewd {Ararandewdra, Ararandeuara) , "those of the 
Ararandeua [River]," and Turiwd (Turiwara), the name of a neighbor 

On the Amanaye language there have been published only two small 
vocabularies, both in 1914: Lange's and Nimuendajti's. It is the most 
distinctive of the Tupi dialects of the He- group. As far as can be ascer- 
tained from the vocabularies, there is no difference in the grammar. 

The Amanaye (map 1, No. 1; see Volume 1, map 7) always occupied 
the upper Pindare, the Gurupi, and the Capim Rivers, the middle Moju 
River, and the central part of the right bank of the lower Tocantins below 
the mouth of the Araguaya, and were found only rarely away from this 
region (lat. 4° S., long. 48° W.). 

They are first mentioned in 1755 when they made an agreement with the Jesuit 
P. Daniel Fay (Tray? Tay?), of Acama (Mongao), a Guajajara village of the 
Pindare River. They had evidently had previous contact with civilized people, for 
they avoided all Whites except the Jesuits. 

According to Ribeiro de Sampaio (1812, p. 9), in 1760, a large band of Amanaye 
moved peacefully southeast to the Alpercatas River, and settled near the village of 
Santo Antonio. By 1815 there were only 20 of this group, and they were mixed with 
Negro blood. The last mention of this village was in 1820 (Francisco de N.S. dos 
Prazeres, 1891, p. 132). A part of this band evidently continued its migration in 1763 
across the Parnahyba River into Piauhy (Alencastre, 1857, p. 6), but its subsequent 
fate is not known. 

In 1775, the " Amanajoz" are listed among the tribes of the lower right Tocantins 
(Ribeiro de Sampaio, 1812, pp. 8, 9), and, in 1798, they were seen to the east of the 
Surubiju River (Mendes de Almeida, n.d., p. 104). In 1845, the "Amananiu" were 
mentioned as inhabitants of part of the Mojii River by Saint- Adolphe. In 1854, 
they had a village on the Pindare above the Guajajara village of Sapucaia (Marques, 



1864), but by 1872 the village had been moved to the Tucumandiua, a western 
tributary of the Gurupi River (Dodt, 1873, p. 132). In 1862, the Amanaye had two 
villages with 60 people on the Ararandeua River, western tributary of the Capim 
River, which has subsequently been their center. 

In 1872, Fr. Candido de Heremence began to convert the Amanaye, Temhe and 
Turiwara of the Capim River. With 200 Amanaye, he founded the Anauera Mission 
(Sao Fidelis) on the left bank of the Capim River, below the confluence of the 
Ararandeua and the Surubiju Rivers. The Turiwara and Tembe, being hostile to 
the Amanaye, were established together farther downstream. The next year, the 
Amanaye killed Fr. Candido and a Belgian engineer, Blochhausen, because during a 
trip the latter dealt severely with the Amanaye crew and injured the chief's son. 
(Souza Franco, 1842, p. 22; Cruz, 1874, p. 47; Moreira Pinto, 1894; Nimuendaju, 
unpublished notes.) Reprisals against the Amanaye for these murders drove them 
to take refuge in the region of the Ararandeua River. Today some of them still 
avoid contact with the civilized people. Others appeared later under the name of 
" Ararandewdra" or "Turiwara" to conceal their identity. 

In 1889, the surviving Anambe and Amanajo, almost wiped out by epidemics on 
the Arapary, lived by the last rapids of the Tocantins River (Ehrenreich, 1892, 
p. 149). 

In 1911, Inspector L. B. Horta Barboza, of the Servigo de Proteccao aos Indios, 
found four Amanaye villages with more than 300 inhabitants on the left bank of the 
Ararandeua River. In 1913, another, more primitive part of the tribe, calling itself 
Ararandewdra, was visited by Algot Lange on the upper Moju River, at approxi- 
mately lat. 4° S. He has published the only description of the Amanaye (Lange, 

During several decades at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 
20th, the most important person among the Amanaye of the Ararandeua River 
was a mulatto woman named Damasia, wife of a member of the tribe. In 1926, 
Nimuendaju saw a small group of Amanaye, who called themselves Ararandewd{ra) , 
in Mundurucii at lat. 3°55' S. They had a plantation on the Moju River. In 1942, 
only 17 persons, mostly Mestizos, survived in the group headed by Damasia's son 
(Arquivos da Inspectoria do Servigo de Protecgao aos Indios, Para, 1942). These 
people stated that another group lived away from all contact with the civilized 
people, on the Igarape do Garrafao, a left tributary of the Ararandeua River. In 
1943, Nimuendaju found a small group of Amanaye, who had been living for several 
decades, in contact with Neo-Brazilians, on the upper Cairary, a tributary on the 
left bank of the lower Moju. They called themselves Turiwa(ra) . 


Subsistence. — ^The Amanaye cultivated manioc, cotton, and tobacco in 
forest clearings. One clearing measured 1,000 by 1,300 yards. These 
Indians also hunted, especially turtles, which were abundant. Turtles not 
consumed at once were kept in small corrals. 

Dogs and chickens were introduced by the White man. 

Manioc was prepared in a special hut; the tubers were crushed in a 
trough made of the miriti palm trunk, pressed through a coarse-meshed 
fiber sifter, then kneaded into balls which were allowed to ferment on a 
platform. Subsequently, the paste was squeezed in the cylindrical tipiti, 
or manioc squeezer, after which the dry pulp was crushed and spread on 


a hot clay pan with slightly upturned edges. Brazil nuts might be added 
to manioc flour to improve its taste. 

Dwellings. — The Amanaye village that Lange visited had 26 houses "of 
a very low order, some not having a proper roof, built around a small area 
of bush cleared forest." The only furniture was small cotton hammocks. 

Clothing. — Amanaye men wore nothing but a short cotton string tied 
around the praeputium, while women wore only a narrow loincloth. 

Men's ornaments included little wooden sticks in the lower lip and tur- 
key feathers stuck in colored cotton bands around the head. Women wore 
"garter-like cotton bands below their knees and on their ankles; . . . 
some of the youngest maidens insert ornaments made of the ivory nut in 
their ear lobes" (Lange, 1914). 

Boats. — Dugout canoes, 35 feet (10.6 m.) long, and 5 feet (1.5 m.) 
wide, were made of trees felled in the forest and dragged to the water on 
rollers by means of creepers. 

Manufactures. — Manioc squeezers were plaited of strong miriti palm 
and tucum fibers. Cotton spindles had a rounded wooden disk. The loom 
was "a simple square frame made of four sticks about 2 feet [0.6 m.] 
long, tied together with fiber or ordinary bush-cord to form a square" 
(Lange, 1914). Cloth, like hammocks, was loosely twined with a double 
weft. Loincloths were stained red with urucii. 

The only pottery mentioned is the clay manioc pan. 

Weapons. — Bows were large — one being 8 feet (2.4 m.) long and 4 
inches (10 cm.) in diameter — and notched at each end for a curaua fiber 
bowstring. Arrows were tipped either with a bamboo blade or with a 
sharp rod with a few barbs on each side. Occasionally, a small nut which 
produced a whistling sound was fastened near the tip. Arrow feathering 
was either of the eastern Brazilian arched or of the Xingii sewn type. 

Stone axes, used until recently, had carefully ground, quadrangular 
heads of diorite with a notch running along the face near the butt. The 
head was inserted in the split end of a shaft of pao d'arco and lashed 
with heavy fibers, then covered with the black gum from the jutahy tree. 

Fire making. — Fire was made with a fire drill. Two men working 
together could make a fire in 2 minutes. 

Social and political organization. — Lange observed an Amanaye 
chief whose weak personality suggested that he must have inherited 
his position. Lange gives no other information on political or social 

Prior to marriage, young men proved their fortitude by plunging an 
arm into a braided fiber cylinder that was closed at both ends and filled 
with tocandeira ants. 

Musical instruments. — ^The Amunaye had a drum that is unusual in 
this area: A long, hollow emba-uba tree trunk was suspended from a 


horizontal branch by a thin, tough bush rope. While one man beat 
the drum with a stick, "another, probably a shaman, danced around it" 
(Lange, 1914). 

Tobacco. — Tobacco was smoked in huge cigarettes, 1 foot (0.3 m.) 
long and 3^ inch (1.2 cm.) thick, wrapped in tauari bark. These were 
passed around, each man taking a few draughts in turn. 

Drinks. — The Amanaye drank a fermented beverage (probably of 
cassava) called cachiri. 


(Amanaye and Turiwara) 

Aguiar, 1851 ; Alencastre, 1857 ; Arquivos da Inspectoria . . . , 1942 ; Baena, 1885 ; 
Brusque, 1862, 1863; Cruz, 1874; Cunha, 1852; Daniel, 1840; Dodt, 1873; Ehrenreich, 
1892; Francisco de Nuestra Senora dos Prazeres, 1891 ; Gama Malcher, 1878; Lange, 
1914; Marques, 1864; Meerwarth, 1904; Mendes de Almeida, n.d. ; Moreira Pinto, 
1894; Nimuendaju, 1914 c, unpublished notes; Platzmann, 1896; Ribeiro, 1848 
(1870); Ribeiro de Sampaio, 1812; Servigo de Protecgao aos Indies, 1942; Souza 
Franco, 1842 ; Villa Real, 1848. 


By Curt Nimuendaju 


This article will deal with the Pacaja, Anambe, Tapiratia, Kupe-rob 
(Jandiahi), Jacunda, Paracand, and Mirano. These tribes, most of them 
rM/Ji-speaking, are now virtually extinct (map 1, No. 1 ; see Volume 1, 
map 7). 


Pacaja {Pacajara) means in Tupi, "master {ydra) of the paca" {Coelo- 
genys paca). According to Bettendorf (1910, pp. 97, 111), the Pacaja 
used the Lingua Geral. 


This tribe appears to have centered in the basin of the Pacaja de 
Portel River, It may also have lived in the lower Tocantins River and 
the lower Xingii River where a right tributary is named Pacaja (de 
Souzel) River. (Lat. 2° S., long. 52° W.) 

In 1613, an expedition of French from Sao Luiz do Maranhao and their allies, 
the Tupinamba, passed the Pacaiares River in a campaign against the Camarapin. 
Later, Father Yves d'Evreux (1864) makes a passing mention of the Pacaja. In 
1626(?), Benito Maciel Parente (1874) mentioned them with the Yuruna and other 
tribes between the Pacaja and "Parnahyba" (Xingu) Rivers, In 1628, the Pacaja 
were "appeased" (Berredo, 1905, 1: 229, 231) by Pedro da Costa Favella on his 
expedition to the Tocantins (Pacaja?) River. Bettendorf (1910, p. 97) recounts with 
some exaggeration that at their first meeting the Pacaja and the Tupinamba an- 
nihilated each other. In 1639, the Pacaja are mentioned by Acuiia ( 1682, p. 139) as 
inhabitants of the Pacaja River. Between 1656 and 1662, an ill-fated expedition 
went in search of mines on the Pacaja River, and the Jesuit Father Joao de Souto 
Mayor, who accompanied it, died (Berredo, 1905, 2: 115). It resulted, however, in 
the Pacaja entering a Jesuit mission (Arucara or Portel?), from whence a large 
part escaped again to their own land. The others were sent to distant missions 
(Bettendorf, 1910, p. 98; Joao Daniel, 1841, p. 182). In 1763, the Pacaja are men- 
tioned for the last time by De Sao Jose (1947, p. 490) as one of the 13 tribes consti- 
tuting the population of 400 in the village of Portel. 

In 1889, Ehrenreich (1891 a, p. 88; 1892, p. 149) was told of the existence of 
savage Pacaja at the headwaters of the Uanapu and Pacaja Rivers near Portel, 
a statement not subsequently confirmed. 





Acufia (1682, p. 139) and Bettendorf (1910, p. 97) considered the 
Pacajd brave and warlike. P. Sotto Mayor (1916) accuses them of can- 
nibalism. In warfare, they eat the enemy which they kill by hand, and 
keep the skulls as trophies. Some 100 years later, Joao Daniel (1841) 
describes them as "very soft and lazy" (i. e., for work in the mission). 
The women wore short skirts and the men short trousers, which they 
might have adopted from the runaway slaves who settled at the head- 
waters of the Pacaja River (?). They were a canoe people; at their 
encounter with the Tupinamba, they came "in over 500 canoes" — evidently 
an exaggeration. 



The Anambe ("anambe" in the Lingua Geral is applied to a considerable 
number of species of birds, Cotingidae) were, by contrast to the Pacaja, 
a modern tribe, which appeared and disappeared during the past century. 

The Anambe language, according to Ehrenreich's vocabulary, was a 
Tupi dialect of the He- group, very similar to the Tembe-Guajajara and 
Turiwara. If the texts of legends in the Lingua Geral published by 
Magalhaes (1876) were, as he says, dictated by Anambe, this tribe was 
bilingual, and at the time did not use its own language. 

The Anambe's (lat. 4°-5° S., long. 50°-51° W.) first contact with the civilized 
people was in 1842 (Brusque, 1862, p. 12). In 1852, they appeared on the left bank 
of the Tocantins River (Cunha, 1853, p. 18) ; they numbered 600. Another group 
lived in the village of Taua at the headwaters of the Cururuhy, a tributary of the 
upper Pacaja River, but it was in contact with the first byway of the Caripy River, 
a tributary of the Tocantins a little above Alcobaga. A village of 250 Curupity (?) 
and Anambe on the upper Pacaja River was at war with the Carambu (Brusque, 
1862, p. 12). In 1874, this village was reduced to 46 persons. The following year 
37 of them died of smallpox, and the 9 survivors joined their fellow tribesmen on 
the Tocantins River. 

In 1889, Ehrenreich found a remnant of four completely civilized Anambe in 
Praia Grande, at the end of the Tocantins rapids. Moura (1910, p. 106) mentions 
Anambe in 1896 and shows a picture of two men. The supposed "Anambe" seen 
by H. Coudreau in 1897 were Arara. The tribe is today completely extinct. 


The Tapiraua (tapiira, "tapir"), or Anta, lived west of Itaboca Falls 
in 1889 (Ehrenreich, 1891 a, 1892).^ Each time they came to the shore 
of the Tocantins, they were driven back by gun shots. They still used 
stone implements. 

In 1896 or 1897 (Moura, 1910, p. 192), two "Tapiri," or Anta, ap- 
peared a few kilometers below Timbozal. They had short hair and their 

^ The distance from the Tocantins is given as 3 to 4 days' travel (Ehrenreich, 1891 a, p. 88), 
and as 1 day's travel (Ehrenreich, 1892, p. 148). 


ears were pierced ,by tiny holes, but they lacked tattoo. This tribe is not 
subsequently mentioned by name, but it may possibly be the same as the 


Apinaye tradition relates that a tribe called Kupe-rob (Kupe, "Indians," 
i.e., non-Timbira, plus rob, "jaguars") or, in Portuguese, Cupe-lobos, 
lived below them on the Tocantins River (lat. 5° S., long. 50° W.), and 
that the Apinaye occasionally attacked them to obtain European-made 
white beads before the Apinaye had begun to trade with the civilized 
people. The Kupe-rob perhaps are identical with the Jandiahi who, in 
1793, lived below Ita,boca Falls (Villa Real, 1848, p. 426), and, in 1844 
(Castelnau, 1850, p. 113), lived on the west shore near Itaboca Falls. 
At the later date, they were hostile to the Jacundd and to the Christians, 
and only rarely were met by travelers. Baena (1870) mentions their 
habitat as Lake Vermelho, at lat. 5° 10' S., west of the Tocantins and 
below the mouth of the Araguaya. In 1849, Ayres Carneiro (1910, pp. 
78-79, 81, 84, 90-91) found famished and lean Cupe-lobos on the Can- 
hanha beach, near the Igarape do Pucuruhy, lat. 4° 10' S., where they 
were persecuted by the Apinaye. In 1896, this tribe appeared peacefully 
in the Rebojo de Bacury, a little above Itaboca Falls, hunting and fishing, 
and using apites (labrets?) of glass (?) or worked stone (Moura, 1910, 
pp. 160, 193). Above Timbozal (a little above the mouth of the Pucuruhy 
River), they had an old village site, 

H. Coudreau (1897 b, p. 43 and map) had a report in 1897 of un- 
identified Indians on the upper Igarape do Bacury. The year before 
these Indians had come in contact with the civilized people. They were 
at first peaceful but soon became hostile. 

In 1922, eight wild Indians appeared on Volta Grande, on the left bank 
of the Tocantins. Both sexes had their hair cut all around, and wore a 
little stick through the ears. The men had their foreskin tied with an 
embira string, and the woman wore a band of the same material. The 
children were carried in a sling under the arm. The belly of the bow was 
flat, the outer side, convex. The bow string was made of curaua 
{Bromelia) and the arrows had flush feathering. A hammock was made 
of fibers. 

One of the men, taken to Belem seriously ill, gave the author a list of 
16 words. The language was Tupi of the He- group, definitely distinct 
from Ehrenreich's Anambe and from Amanaye. As the material culture 
of these people did not correspond to that of the Paracand, it is possible 
that they were the Kupe-rob survivors. Also, it is possible that the 
Indians who occasionally came peaceably to the post of the Servico de 
Protecqao aos Indios on the Pucuruhy River were not Paracana, as sup- 
•^osed, but Kupe-rob. The people at the post noted that they called cer- 


tain plants and animals by Tupi names, similar to those of the Neo- 
Brazilians. In 1942, unknown Indians were again seen in the Igarape do 
Bacury, and it may be that the tribe still exists around there. 


At the end of the 18th century and during the first half of the 19th 
century, the Jacundd lived on the Jacunda River, which empties into the 
Tocantins from the right below Itaboca Falls (lat. 4° 27' S., long. 49° 
W.). The name designates a fish (Crenicichla sp.). Meneses' diary 
(n. d., p. 175) ascribes to these Indians "red eyes, just like those of a 
certain fish by the same name." 

The only record of the Jacundd language is the names of two chiefs of 
1793: Uoriniuera, which is a Tupian word (warinikwera, "old war"), 
and Claxira, which is contrary to Tupi phonetics. A map of Brazil of 
1846 states: "Jacunda, tractable people who speak the Lingua Geral" 
(Niemaeyer, 1846). 

The Jacundd were first mentioned by Villa Real (1848, pp. 424-426, 432) in 1793, 
when they lived at the headwaters of the Igarape Guayapi (Jacunda River?) and 
occasionally appeared on the eastern bank of the Tocantins. Another igarape 
(water passage) above Itaboca Falls was also inhabited by the Jacundd, who had a 
port at its mouth. According to Villa Real, the Jacundd had two chiefs. Meneses 
(1919, p. 175) mentions the Jacundd in 1799 on the Igarape of Jacunda, and Ribeiro 
(1870, p. 37) mentions them in 1815 among the tribes of the Tocantins River. 
According to Castelnau (1850), they lived in 1844 on the right bank of the Tocantins, 
above Itaboca Falls, and were hostile to the Jundiahi (Kupe-robf) of the opposite 
bank and to Christians, who rarely saw them. In 1849, they were said to be peaceful. 

In 1849, Ayres Carneiro (1910, p. 45) saw 30 to 40 Jacundd, including women and 
children, on the Ambaua beach, a little above the present Alcobaga, on the right 
side of the river, but they fled into the jungle. Henceforth, their name disappears, 
and, since 1859 the Gavioes, a Timbira tribe of the Ge group (Handbook, vol. 1, 
p. 477), has occupied their region (Gomes, 1862, p. 496). Ehrenreich, however, 
mentions the Jacundd in 1889, 30 years after they had probably become extinct. 



in 1910, an unknown tribe of savage Indians appeared on the Pacaja 
River above Portel. Their repeated attacks on the Arara-Pariri caused 
the latter to abandon their territory on the Iriuana River, a left tributary 
of the Pacaja, and to take refuge with the Neo-Brazilians on the lower 
Pacaja. The Pariri called this tribe Paracand (lat. 4*-5° S., long. SC- 
SI" W.). Perhaps it was the same tribe that, under the name of Yauariti- 
Tapiiya, was hostile to the Anambe of the Pacaja River during the last 
century (this volume, p. 204). At first they were at peace with the Neo- 
Brazilians, and at times helped them pass Cachoeira Grande Fall of the 
Pacaja River. 


According to information obtained from the Pariri in 1914, the 
Paracand call thunder, "tumpo" {Tupi, tupa), and water, "i" (Tupi, i). 
The Paracand language is, therefore, possibly a member of the Tupian 

During the 1920's, the Paracand began to appear on the left bank of the 
Tocantins, above Alcobaga. They were pretentious and demanding, and, 
though they used no weapons, they frightened the residents away and 
pillaged their houses. After 1927, they became openly hostile toward 
the civilized residents. They would come shooting arrows, and every 
year they killed people, but they did not mutilate the bodies nor take 
trophies. Civilized people attributed this hostility to the entrance of nut 
gatherers into the regions west of the Tocantins. After one of these at- 
tacks, the head of the Alcobaga Railroad ordered a punitive expedition, 
which surprised and killed the Paracand in their camp. This incited the 
Paracand to attack even within sight of Alcobaga and to extend their raids 
north to Juana Peres and the upper Jacunda River, During the last 
two years, however, their raids on the Tocantins side have for an unknown 
reason ceased completely. 

While on the Pacaja, these Indians were always known as Paracand, 
a name given to them by the Pariri. It was wrongly believed on the 
Tocantins that they were Asurini from the Xingii River. 


Clothing and ornaments. — The Paracand cut the hair around the head 
and wore a wooden peg through the lower lip. Several items of apparel 
are among 142 Paracand objects in the Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi. 
There are short cotton women's skirts, 18 inches (45 cm.) long, made 
with a twined weave, the weft elements a finger's breadth apart. The 
warp runs all the way around each garment, the cloth being tubular, like 
that produced by the "Arawak" loom. Some strings of red cotton 
threads are probably pectoral ornaments. There are necklaces of black 
tiririca {Scleria sp.) seeds, alternating with fine tubular bones. A 
child's (?) headband is made of close-looped cotton string with a strip of 
Neo-Brazilian cloth and 15 macaw tail feathers carelessly attached. A 
comb is made of 12 teeth bound with thread between two pairs of sticks ; 
the wrapping is not ornamental. Jingles, probably worn below the knee 
or on the ankle, are made of piqui {Caryocar sp.) nuts hung on cotton 

Basketry. — A rectangular basket of the "jamaxim" type for carrying 
objects on the back has the outer side and the top end open. The side 
against the carrier's back and the bottom have a twilled weave and black 
zigzag designs; the outer sides have a fine, open octagonal weave, the 
strips running in four directions. 


Weaving. — A hammock 58 inches (1.8 m.) long, is woven of twined 
cotton strings and of strings taken from hammocks stolen from Neo- 
Brazilians. The weft elements are 3 to 4 inches (7 to 10 cm.) apart. 

Weapons. — Arrows have camayuva shafts, 54 to 66 inches (1.4 to 
1.7 m.) long, and sewn feathering which is bound with fine thread and 
frequently decorated with small toucan feathers. Three types of heads are : 
(1) Lanceolate bamboo blades, 24 inches (70 cm.) long and about 2 inches 
(5.5 cm.) broad at the widest point. These are smeared with black paint 
on the concave side and a few specimens bear a crude black design on the 
convex side. Just behind the point, some arrows have a palm coconut, 
about \y2 inches (4 cm.) in diameter, perforated with a row of as many 
as nine holes around it. (2) Bone points, either without barbs or with a 
barb on one or both sides. (3) Plain, rodlike wooden points. The bow 
is of paxiuba wood, very wide (5 cm., or 2 in.), flat (1 to 2 cm. thick), 
similar to the Asurini bow. It is about 159.5 cm. (62 in.) long. The 
ends are cut with shoulders, to hold the cord, 5 cm. and 11.5 cm. respec- 
tively from the ends. 

Fire. — Torches are made of cotton cords or of Neo-BraziHan cloth, and 
are impregnated with beeswax. 

Musical instruments. — A set of panpipes has 8 tubes, ranging from 
53^ to 10 inches (12 to 26 cm.) in length and 5 to 12 mm. in diameter 
and held together by two parallel ligatures of Neo-Brazilian cotton. 


Rivet (1924, p. 689) places a Tupi tribe of Mirano Indians "between the 
Acara and Capim Rivers at the headwaters of the Bujaru." On the 
map of the State of Para by Santa Rosa, the "Indios Miranhios" appear 
on the left margin of the Capim River, at lat. 2°30' S. There was never 
any tribe by this name, however. Among the Tembe there was a large 
family called "Miranya." The present author found members of this 
family in the Indian village of Prata as late as 1916. Since the place 
where the Mirano was supposed to be settled coincides almost exactly 
with the old Tembe village of Mariquita, it is probable that the so-called 
Mirano were in reality Tembe. 

According to Metraux (1928 a, p. 22), "Amiranha" is a synonym of 
Jacimdd. The Amanaye of the Ararandeua River spoke to the present 
author in 1913 about a tribe called Mirdn, but they could not tell him 
where they were settled. 


Acuna, 1682 ; Ayres Carneiro, 1910 ; Baena, 1870 ; Berredo, 1905 ; Bettendorf, 1910 ; 
Brusque, 1862; Castelnau, 1850; Coudreau, H., 1897 b; Cunha, 1853; Daniel, 1841; 
Ehrenreich, 1891 a, 1892, 1895; Gomes, 1862, Maciel Parente. 1874; Magal- 
haes, 1876; Meneses, 1919; Metraux, 1928 a; Moreira Pinto, 1894; Moura, 1910; 
Niemaeyer, 1846; Nimuendaju, 1939; Ribeiro, 1870; Rivet, 1924; Sao Jose, 1847; 
Sotto Mayor, 1916; Souza, 1874; Villa Real, 1848; Yves d'Evreux, 1864. 


By Curt Nimuendaju 


In 1668-69, an expedition, led by Major J. de Almeida Freire, started 
out along the Tocantins River against the Poqui Indians, who lived 8 days' 
march from its banks. On the way back, the expedition passed the 
Aracaju and brought back many bows and arrows, "with some wide and 
long shields, covered with beautiful feathers" (Bettendorf, 1910, p. 32). 
(Lat. 4° S., long. 52° W.) 

In 1679, P. Jodoco Peres, of Jaguaqtiara (north side of the Amazon, above the 
mouth of the Paru) sought the Aracajii who were "in the wilds of the Tocanhapes," 
i.e., the right side of the lower Xingu, south of the Amazon. In 1680, P. Antonio 
dc Silva went by way of the ba3'Ou (Pacaja de Souzel River) and the backwoods 
of the Tocanhapes, and brought some 400 Indians down to the Indian village of 
Cussary (in front of the present Monte Alegre, on the right side of the Amazon). 
Shortly thereafter, in 1681, however, Bettendorf tells about being received by the 
chiefs of the Aracaju in Jaguaquara, where these Indians had made a large house, 
which they abandoned because the land there was very poor for agriculture (Betten- 
dorf, 1910, pp. 324, 335, 337). By 1681, therefore, the Aracajii were no longer in 
Cussary, south of the Amazon, but in Jaguaquara, on the northern side. It seems 
tliat they settled on the Paru River, where their presence is mentioned in 1702, when 
the Commissary of the Capuchins, Fr. Jeronymo de Sao Francisco, transferred 
Indians from five tribes, among them the Aracaju, to the new Indian village of the 
Aroaqui on the Urubu River (Ferreira, 1841). 

Martius found in 1820 that the Aracaju and Apama comprised the population of 
Almeirim (Spix and Martius, 1823-31, 1:324). The few Aracaju still at liberty 
Hved on the Paru River in small isolated Indian villages. Altliough at peace with the 
Brazilians, they could rarely be persuaded to live among them. They were rather 
dark Indians, with no distinguishing characteristics. Their weapons were not 
poisoned. They were constantly at war with the "Oaiapis" (JVayapi) of the upper 
Jary and Iratapuru Rivers and with the Cossari of the Araguaya River. Subse- 
quently, no further mention is made of them. 

Martius, who tends to explain all names by the Lingua Geral, interprets 
Aracajii as uara-guagu, "great people." He considers "wara" to be a 
substantive, meaning "man" or "people," whereas it is really a personal 
ending. The vocabulary (1863, p. 17) which he collected in Gurupa also 
calls forth the following remarks : Of his 53 words, 24 are clearly Tupi 

1 Map 1, No. 1 ; see Volume 1, map 7. 



and 21 no less clearly Carib, while 8 cannot be definitely identified. The 
Tupi words belong to the Lingua Geral, not to some special dialect, and, 
therefore, probably do not represent the tribe's original tongue but the 
language which they learned at the mission. The Carib words are not 
identical with those of the Aparai, as Rivet thought (1924, p. 660), though 
they have greater resemblance to the dialects north of the Amazon than to 
those of the south (e.g., Arara, etc.). Because the Aracaju came from 
the south of the Amazon, one reaches the conclusion that these Carib 
words also do not represent the original Aracaju language, but that they 
were acquired through contact with some Carib tribe after they lived north 
of the Amazon, and that their own original tongue has been lost entirely. 


In the Aparai language, apoto means "fire," and thus Araujo Amazonas 
and Ignacio Accioly write the name of a tribe which is also called, probably 
by a mistaken transcription, Apanto and Apauto. The few references to 
this tribe are all based on that of Christobal d'Acuna in 1639 (1682), 
wherein he states that four tribes lived on the Cunurizes (Nhamunda) 
River, the first having lent its name to the river on the mouth of which 
it lived, and the second, above the mouth, being the Apoto tribe "which 
speaks the Lingua Geral." This is all that is known about these Indians. 


Three sources give slight information about a tribe or tribes called 

(1) The Pauxi (pausi, paushi, undoubtedly a Carib word meaning 
"mutum," Cracidae sp. ; cf. Pansiana, a Carib tribe on Caratirimani River) , 
according to Bettendorf (1910), spoke the Lingua Geral. It was settled 
in the region of the Xingu River. Between 1658 and 1660, the Jesuit, 
P. Salvador do Valle, brought more than 600 of this tribe to the Indian 
village of Tapara, on the right side of that river, almost at its mouth. 
There is no further notice of them. 

(2) The "Fort of the Pauxis" was founded in 1697 on the left bank 
of the Amazon, where the present-day Villa de Obidos is situated, and 
Pauxis is today still the name of a lake just below this village. Near 
this fort there were two small Indian villages which, in 1758, were com- 
bined with another from farther away in the Villa de Obidos (Moraes, 
1860, p. 508), but nothing further is known of the tribe or tribes which 
lived there. P. Fritz (1922), in 1690, speaks of the tribe of the "Cunur- 
izes" (map of 1691) exactly on the spot where the fort was to be built 
6 years later. 

(3) When O. Coudreau (1901) mapped the "Cumina" River (Erepe- 
curu) in 1900, a descendant of fugitive slaves living on this river informed 
her that a tribe of Indians called Pauxi (pronounced pausi, paushi) lived 


in the headwaters of the Agua Fria, Penecura, and Acapu Bayous, right 
tributaries of the Erepecurii River, a little above its mouth. According 
to this information, the tribe had first lived in Obidos, but before the 
coming of civilized people, it retreated to the Erepecuru River, then to 
the mouth of the Penecura River, and, finally, to the headwaters of this 
river. After 1877, its relations with the fugitive slaves had been broken. 
From the same informant, Coudreau obtained a list of 38 words. The 
language is Carib, but it differs from the dialect of the Kasuend {Cash- 
uend) of the Cachorro River, their nearest neighbors, and from that of 
the Pianocoto of the upper Erepecuru (Coudreau, O., 1901, pp. 132-133). 
The Pauxi no longer exist. 


Acufia, 1682; Berredo, 1905, vol. 1; Bettendorf, 1910; Coudreau, O, 1901; 
Ferreira, A. R., 1841; Fritz, 1691, 1922; Martius, 1863; Moraes, 1860; Rivet, 1924; 
Sao Jose, 1847 ; Spix and Martius, 1823-31, vol. 3. 


By Curt Nimuendaju 


The Xingii Basin, as far south as lat. 7° S., is exclusively characterized 
by Amazonian virgin forest, whose wealth of rubber and nuts attracted 
the attention of civilized man. From that latitude south or upstream, 
savannas appear, becoming more and more predominant southward, until 
the forest is reduced to a narrow border along watercourses, sometimes 
even encroaching upon the river banks. 

It is rolling country. The "Morro Grande" of the Xingii River rises 
to some 975 ft. (300 m.) above the level of the river. The watercourses 
are interrupted by rapids and the Xingii River beyond Volta Grande 
is one of the most difficult rivers in Brazil to navigate. Over long 
stretches the bed of the river is filled with enormous rocks cut through 
by channels full of rapids. The Iriri River is of similar type. 

The tribes (map 1, No. 1 ; see Volume 1, map 7) of this region may 
be classified according to these geographical features into three groups. 

(1) Canoeing tribes restricted to the Xingii, Iriri, and Curua Rivers: 
Yuruna, Ship ay a, Arupai. 

(2) Tribes of the central virgin forest: Curuaya, Arara, Asurini, and, 
formerly, Tacunyape. 

(3) Savanna tribes that only temporarily invade the forest zone: 
Northern Cayapo, which were dealt with in Lowie's paper on "The 
Northwestern and Central Ge" (Handbook, vol. 1, pp. 477-517). 


Farming, with manioc the staple crop, was the basis of subsistence 
among all these tribes except perhaps the Arara, who were less clearly 
horticultural. Caimans, turtles, honey, and Brazil nuts were outstanding 
wild foods. The Yuruna, Shipaya, and Tacunyape built large communal 
dwellings in isolated places for fear of attack. Excellent canoemen, the 
Yuruna and Shipaya lived along the rivers, whereas the other tribes kept 
to the forests. Houses were furnished with wooden stools and ham- 
mocks. Dress included breechclouts (?) {Curuaya), women's wrap- 
around skirts, and men's penis covers ( Yuruna and Shipaya), and women's 



aprons (Tacupyape) . Ornaments were the usual Tropical Forest types: 
feather headdresses, arm and leg bands, necklaces, ear sticks, nose 
pendants (Arara), and lip plugs {Curuaya). Among manufactures, 
which suffered because of much nomadism enforced by warfare, were: 
Cotton textiles (Yuruna) ; ceramics, which are usually plain; incised 
gourds (Shipaya) ; and stone axes. The bow and arrow was the main 

The sociopolitical unit was the village, seemingly patrilineal in organiza- 
tion and in descent of chieftainship. There was little polygyny and family 
ties were very strong. Intertribal relations involved intermittent warfare, 
with cannibalism ascribed to the Yuruna and Shipaya and trophies more 
general. The latter include skulls (Yuruna, Shipaya, Curuaya), bone 
trumpets (Yuruma), tooth necklaces (Shipaya), and scalps (Arara). 

These tribes drank much fermented liquor, but had no drunken brawls. 
The Yuruna smoked tobacco in cigarettes. Musical instruments include 
panpipes; shaman's gourd rattles; gourd horns; gourd, wooden, and 
human-skull trumpets; bone flutes, clarinets, and whistles. The pre- 
dominating art motif is the maze; sculpture reproduced mythical 

Shipaya and probably Yuruna religion was based on a cult of the jaguar 
demon, who was the patron of war and cannibalism, and a feast of the 
dead, in which men and women drank chicha. The Tacunyape had a 
similar feast. The shaman, in the capacity of priest, served as inter- 
mediary between people and demons and souls. As medicine man, he 
cured, without the aid of supernatural spirits, by sucking, massaging, 
and blowing cigarette smoke to remove the disease-causing substance. 


Of the tribes on the lower and middle Xingu, the Arara stand apart 
as Carihan. Their speech is so close to Yaruma (Paranayuba River, a 
tributary of the right bank of the upper Xingii) as to permit the hypothesis 
of a common ancestral tribe, the Arara turning north, the Yaruma south, 
perhaps separating under Cayapo pressure (Ehrenreich, 1895). 

All other tribes are Tupi. To be sure, there is not the slightest record 
of Asurini speech, but an English missionary conversant with Guajajara 
who spoke with a young Asurini woman captured by the Gorotire com- 
mented on the resemblance of her tongue to the language familiar to 
him. Accordingly, Asurini may be reckoned as probably Tupi. About 
the remaining languages we can be more positive. 

Martius (1867) and Lucien Adam (1896) challenge the Tupi relation- 
ship of Yuruna, which is accepted by such competent authorities as Betten- 
dorf, Von den Steinen, and Brinton. Closer study leads me to the 
provisional conclusion that Yuruna, Shipaya, Manitsaud, and perhaps 
Arupai form a special division of impure Tupi languages. Lexical Tupi 


elements in Yuruna are conspicuous, though often obscured by alterations 
so that correspondences are proved only by comparison with Shipaya and 
Manitsaud equivalents. Contrary to Adam's assumption, there are also 
important grammatical features of Tupi type, though less numerous than 
might be inferred from the large percentage of Tupi vocables. However, 
the Yuruna group does differ greatly from Tupi proper, especially in the 
pronominal system. The present author tentatively recognizes four com- 
ponents: (1) A Tupi foundation, even anciently modified by strong 
influences due to (2) Arazvak, and in lesser degree to (3) Carib languages ; 
to these must be added (4) recent loans from the Lingua Geral. 

Shipaya differs so little from Yuruna as to permit, with some trouble, 
mutual intelligibility. Some two dozen words differ radically; otherwise 
regular shifts appear: 









se, si 


zi, ze 










Thus, we have : 









in (post- 









to go 




The grammatical divergences are insignificant : The imperative differs ; 
the negative ka of Shipaya corresponds to Yuruna poga and teha ; Yuruna 
regularly forms the future with the auxiliary verb ca (to go), whereas 
Shipaya has recourse to adverbs. 

The Arupai spoke Yuruna. They are in no way connected with the 
Gurupd of the Tocantins River and the Urupd of the Gy-Parana. 

Curuaya resembles Mundurucu as closely as Yuruna does Shipaya. 
In some cases it preserves primitive Tupi forms better than Mundurucu. 

The Tacunyape, according to the Jesuits, spoke the Lingua Geral, 
whereas Von den Steinen credits them with a Tupi dialect appreciably 
distinct from Yuruna. The present author found no TacMnya/>^-speaking 
Indians, but three Neo-Brazilians, formerly resident in the area and during 
the last 20 years of the last century in close contact with the tribe, dic- 
tated 34 words and phrases, probably badly garbled. Though diverging 
considerably from the standard Lingua Geral (final t's!), their Tupi re- 
lationship is beyond doubt. 



Not only along the Xingu River and its larger affluents, the Iriri and 
Fresco Rivers, but also along the smaller tributaries and subtributaries, 
are found vestiges of a vanished population, whose culture differed from 
that of the tribes found in the 20th century. The impression is that these 
tribes formerly occupied all of the jungle region of the Xingu Basin, 
These vestiges comprise : 

(1) Dwelling sites found on points of solid land jutting out to the 
edge of the water and easily recognized by their "black earth," a cultural 
layer containing fragments of pottery and stone instruments. 

The pottery can be distinguished at first sight from that of present-day 
tribes. On the lower Xingu and lower Iriri Rivers it is rich in plastic 
adornment, recalling somewhat the pottery of the Monte Alegre region 
or even of the Tapajo. The pottery of the middle Xingu River and its 
affluents is plainer, with little plastic or engraved ornamentation, and is 
not uniform. On the Igarape das Flechas River, a tributary of the upper 
Curua River, two small stone statuettes were found, one representing a 
beetle, the other a man. 

(2) Cemeteries. In the same "black earth" are found burial remains. 
In the streets of Porto de Moz and Altamira, there may be seen the 
mouths of urns covered by other vessels ; Panellas, a little above Altamira, 
owes its name to such findings. In Porto Seguro, at lat. 7° 10' S., on a 
permanent island of the Xingu River, funeral urns are found, and among 
them superficially buried skeletons, lying stretched on their backs. Be- 
cause of their size, all these urns could have served only for secondary 

The presence of funeral urns distinguished the culture of the Xingii 
Basin from that of the neighboring Tapajo and its affiliates. 

(3) Petroglyphs. Along the Itamaraca and Cajituba Falls of the Volta 
Grande do Xingu, at Caxinguba (lat. 5° 20' S.), and along the lower 
Pacaja and upper Iriri, the figures of men, of animals, and of unknown 
meaning are engraved on the surface of the smooth rocks. The most 
important are those at Itamaraca, already known to the first Jesuit 
missionaries in the 17th century, and one in Pacaja. 

(4) Monoliths. In a stony stretch of the Xingu River, at lat. 7° 20' S., 
are eight more or less vertical small stone pillars, which are from 1 to 2 
meters (3^ to 6j'2 ft.) in height and are roughly broken off but not 
carved. There can be no doubt as to their artificial origin. 

(5) At various points of the middle Xingu and of the lower Iriri Rivers, 
there may be found about 50 piles of small stone blocks on the slabs of 
the falls. 

Stratification. — Downstream from Volta Grande, these remains must, 
at least in part, be ascribed to the tribes which were encountered by the 


first explorers. Above this point, however, there is a hiatus between the 
prehistoric and historic peoples. The Indians of today know nothing of 
their origin. When the Yuruna, Shipaya, Arupai, and other tribes ap- 
peared, the sedentary potters no longer existed, probably having been 
annihilated by the expanding Northern Cayapo, who, coming from the 
open country of the south, spread throughout the Xingu Basin. When 
the Tupi tribes appeared, they found the Cayapo already there, for their 
traditions always make them coexistent, no story accounting for their 
appearance. These Tupi tribes, with the exception of the Curuaya, the 
westernmost tribe, succeeded in penetrating and inhabiting these regions — 
incidentally, with great difficulty — only because they were excellent boat- 
men and occupied the islands of the great rivers, while the Cayapo made 
only very primitive craft, which they used exclusively to cross the rivers. 


These populations disappeared, and no chronicler has left us any 
information of ethnographic value about them. The chart of Joannes 
de Laet (1899), dated 1625, shows the presence of Apehou on both sides 
of the mouth of the Xingu River; in the Tupi language of the "He-" 
group, Apehou means "man" (apihaw). After 1639, the Jesuits began 
to establish themselves on the Xingu River, but no one knows what Indians 
composed their missions. The first missionary, Luiz Figueira, preached 
in 1636 in Tabpinima (the modern Itapinimaf) to Indians "who were 
not well versed in the Lingua Geral," i. e., Tupi-Guarani, and founded 
the Xingu mission later called Itacuruga and today known as Veiros. 
Shortly after, five more missions were established. Old chronicles and 
maps (Heriarte, 1874 [written in 1662] ; Samuel Fritz, 1922 [map of 
1691] ; Bettendorf, 1910 [written in 1699]) refer specially to three tribes: 
the Coani, the Guahuara, and the Guayapi. The last two spoke the Lingua 
Geral. These three tribes probably inhabited the western side of the 
river. At that time the Parana of Aquiquy, an offshoot of the Amazon 
that flows into the Xingu, a little above Porto de Moz, was known as 
the "Coanizes River." The Guayapi were settled for a time at the be- 
ginning of Volta Grande ; in 1763, they and the Yuruna were still reported 
at Freguezia de Souzel. Most of this tribe, however, seems to have 
emigrated earlier to the north of the Amazon River, probably by way 
of Jary, and established themselves on the Oyapock River, where they 
are mentioned after 1729. The Guahuara tribe in 1688 had 22 villages 
in the interior of the central forests (sertao). From Bettendorf one gets 
the impression that this tribe is identical with the Curabare or Curuaya. 

In the 19th century, writers no longer spoke of Indians on the lower 
Xingu River, because the survivors had fused with the semicivilized pop- 
ulation which spoke the Lingua Geral. 



Synonyms. — Juruna, Jurnima, Jiiruhuna, Geruna (from the Tupi- 
Guarani, yuru, "mouth," plus una, "black") ; self -designation and Ship- 
aya, Ytidya (meaning?) ; in Curuaya, Parawa-wad (parawa, "blue 
macaw," plus wad, "people") ; in Arara, Paru-podeari (paru, "water") ; 
in Cayapo, No-iren (no, "water"). 

History, territory, and number. — The first reference to this tribe is found in a 
memorial written by Maciel Parente (1874) in 1626: ". . . the island between the 
Pacaja branch [of Portel] and the Parnahyba [Xingu] . . . where are situated the 
provinces of the Pacajaras [Pacaja], Coanapus [Anapu], Caraguatas [?], and Juru- 
hunas." (Lat. 5°-6"' S., long. 53° W.) 

Afterward, during the entire 17th century, we learn only of the more or less vain 
attempts to reduce the Yuruna to the secular or clerical regime. The chronology of 
these happenings is, however, very doubtful. An expedition from Sao Paulo 
descending the Xingu was attacked on one of the islands of the river; only two 
tame Indians escaped, the rest being killed. An expedition commanded by the 
Captain-General of Gurupa, Joao Velho do Valle, composed of 100 musketeers and 
3,000 tame Indians, was driven back with heavy losses. In 1655 or 1657, the Jesuits 
were able to settle two large divisions of the tribe in villages in Maturu (Porto de 
Moz) ; this work was, however, interrupted by the first expulsion of the order in 
1661. Later (1665?) the Jesuits took some Yuruna and Tacunyape to the villages 
of the lower Xingu, but the majority returned to the plains. In 1666 (?), the 
Ynruna defeated another party. Between 1682 and 1685, the Yuruna and Tacunyape 
defeated an expedition of tame Indians and Caravare {Curuaya) led by Gon^alvcs 
Paes de Araujo, inflicting great losses. Then the Yuruna started out in 30 war 
canoes to attack the civilized population. In 1691 or 1692, the Jesuits failed in an 
attempt to reopen relations, the Yuruna killing every one sent out to them. 

According to Father Jose de Mello Moraes (1860), the Yuruna were settled in 
four small villages on islands of the Xingu, 30 leagues from its mouth. As he sets 
the distance between the mouth and the first falls at 40 leagues, the Yuruna were 
still 10 leagues below those falls. These tribes must have early abandoned this 
place, however, retreating to above the falls of Volta Grande, where the Jesuits (in 
the middle of the 18th century?) also had the mission of Anauera or Tauaquera, 
a little above present-day Altamira. The missionaries were finally expelled by the 
Indians, who were dissatisfied with their strictness. 

During the following 150 years, there is no record of the tribes above Volta Grande, 
which seem to have been left to themselves, protected by the dangerous falls and by 
their reputation as ferocious cannibals ; as late as 1831, their attacks were feared 
above Souzel. In 1841, the Vicar of this village, Torquato Antonio de Souza, made 
a new attempt to establish a mission in Tauaquera, which, after a few years, seems 
to have been abandoned. 

In 1843, the Yuruna, by that time completely tame, were visited by Prince Adalbert 
of Prussia, guided by Father Torquato. At that time they lived in nine small villages 
between Tauaquera and a point 1 hour above Piranhaquara. There was no village 
in Volta Grande, but the Yuruna paid friendly visits in Souzel and knew a little 
Tupi-Guarani. Father Torquato reported their number as 2,000, which would 
average 222 to each village ; possibly 200 would come nearer to the truth. 

In 1859, the Government of the Province of Para initiated again the catechization 
of the tribes above Volta Grande; however, the first attempt was a failure. At this 
time the number of Yuruna, in three villages, was calculated at 235. This mission 
was kept up until about 1880, with, it seems, little success. In a fairly detailed 


report by President Carlos de Araujo Brusque (1863), apparently based on informa- 
tion given by the missionary, the total number of Yuruna in that year was 250. 

When Von den Steinen descended the Xingu in 1884, this mission was no longer 
in existence. Two hundred and five Yuruna inhabited five villages between "Pedra 
Preta" (lat. 4° 40' S.), above Piranhaquara, and lat. 8' 30' S., a little below Pedra 
Seca. These Indians still maintained their independence, and their original culture 
was almost intact. The civilized population had not yet reached the mouth of 
the Iriri. 

When H. Coudreau visited the Xingu in 1896, the situation of the tribe was 
completely changed. The 150 Yuruna, except for a group which had fled a little 
beyond Carreira Comprida, had fallen into servitude to the rubber gatherers, whose 
authority was extended to above the mouth of the Triumph River. Another small 
group, led by Tuxaua Muratti, lived in Cachoeira Jurucua, in Volta Grande. The 
two largest groups, working for Raymundo Marques in Pedra Preta and the 
Gomes Brothers in Caxinguba (lat. 5" 20' S.) were composed, respectively, of 15 and 
30 persons. 

In 1910, a rubber-plantation owner crossed Carreira Comprida and settled a little 
below Pedra Seca. The Yuruna refugees there came under his authority, tried to 
flee upriver, but were pursued with firearms. Later, impelled by poverty and by the 
attacks of the Cayapo, part of them returned, but in 1916 they once more fled to 
the upper Xingu never to return. They settled near the mouth of a tributary of the 
left bank, a little above the Martins Falls, where they were still found in 1928 by 
G. M. Dyott's expedition. They number about 30 Indians. Probably there are also 
survivors in Volta Grande of Tuxiua Muratii's family, 


Synonyms. — Juaicipoia, Jacipoya, Jacipuyd, Javipuya, Acipoya, Achu- 
paya, Achipaye, Axipai, Chipaya. Self-designation and Yuruna: Shipdy 
(shipa, bamboo for the arrowheads, plus -i, suffix of the collective plural 
of persons). In Arara: Chipdy. In Cayapo: No-iren {Yuruna). In 
Kuruaya: Pardtvaivad (Yuruna). 

Physically, culturally, and linguistically, the Shipaya are the closest 
relatives of the Yuruna, being in many respects indistinguishable. 

History, territory, and number. — The Shipaya (lat. 5° S., long. 55" W.) were 
first made known to civilization by the Jesuit priest, Roque Hundertpfund, who (in 
1750?) went up the Xingu and the "River of the Junmas" (Iriri), on a preaching 
tour of the Curibary {Curuaya) and Jacipoya (Shipaya). Whereas the Yuruna 
had for more than two centuries maintained themselves on a constant defensive 
against civilized people, the Shipaya had until after 1880 remained quietly in their 
own region without contacts with the civilized world. Kletke (1857), Brusque, and 
H. Coudreau mentioned them, but did not visit them. The first scientist to have 
direct and lengthy contact with them was Emilia Snethlage, in 1909, and especially 
in 1913. In the latter year she set the total number of Shipaya at several hundred, 
an estimate perhaps too high, since in 1918 only about 80 individuals were left. 
Today there may be only about 30, scattered in Largo do Mutum and Pedra do 
Cupim on the lower Iriri, and, mingled with a few remaining Curuaya, in Gorgulho 
do Barbado, on the lower Curua, at about lat. 6° 30' S. 

From remote times the Shipaya inhabited the islands of the Iriri River, from 
the mouth of the Curua downstream. They never settled farther up, for fear of 
Cayapo attacks. Later, about 1885, the Cayap6 forced them to evacuate their 



settlements at the great falls of the Iriri, between lat. 4° 50' and 5° S. and to 
take shelter in the Curua, settling in the Gorgulho do Barbado, which they only 
temporarily abandoned in 1913, after a bloody encounter with the rubber tappers. 
Since then they have always been divided into two local groups : on the lower Iriri 
and on the Curua. 


This tribe is only known through information given by other Indians, 
as it became extinct before direct contact with civilized people. Prince 
Adalbert von Preussen in 1843 heard of them as enemies of the Yuruna. 
Brusque's report (1863) refers to them as Urupaya, and devotes a small 
chapter to them, which I quote here, since it is the only literature on this 

This is a relatively numerous tribe, and although peaceable and relatively free 
of bad habits, it is extremely distrustful and suspicious in its relations with in- 
dividuals of other nations. Its habits and customs are the same as those of the 
Tucunapeuas, with whom they have close bonds of friendship and trade. Since 
the Tucunapeuas from time to time meet the caravans which go up the Xingu 
River in search of natural products, it is they who obtain from these caravans 
objects which they trade to the Urupayas in exchange for canoes, cotton thread, 
hammocks and chickens. The Tucunapeuas, as intermediates in this trading, charge 
their neighbors a higher price for the objects they sell them — ^principally agricul- 
tural tools and beads highly prized for ornaments. In general Indians as soon 
as they come into contact with civilized man and learn the use of firearms, do 
everything in their power to get hold of these. The Urupayas, however, although 
acquainted with firearms through the Tucunapeuas, are so terrified by them, that 
they will not go near an armed man. They preserve a tradition from generation 
to generation about an ancient encounter with men who shot at them, causing 
a great slaughter, and this has instilled in them a great horror for firearms. 
They inhabit the most remote islands of the Xingu that anyone knows of. They 
cultivate manioc, cotton, and urucu. They are graceful, have beautiful bodies, 
and a beautiful color, and they are clever and industrious. They obey a "tuxaua" 
(chief) called Juacua. [Brusque, 1863.] 

Since at that time the Xingu was already known at least as far as the 
outh of the Fresco River, the Ariipai must have lived still farther up. 
Approximately, lat. 7° S., long. 53° W.) Also Shipaya tradition places 
.nem on the Xingu, just above the Yuruna. A Shipaya band, which 
anciently migrated to the upper Xingu, fought with this tribe. Accord- 
ing to another tradition, they received a few Shipaya who paid them a 
riendly visit. Finally, during a feast, they were taken by surprise by 
.le Yuruna. The men were killed or captured to be eaten afterward; 
^le women and children were made prisoners. Some escaped upstream, 
alto the sertao, and were never heard of again. The tribe no longer 
jxisted when Von den Steinen descended the Xingii in 1884. 

The name Arupai is derived from Shipaya "arupa" or "aguaye" 
(Eichhornia sp.) plus "i," suffix of the collective plural for persons. 



Synonyms. — Kuruaya, Caravare, Curibary, Curuari, Curivere, Curu- 
bare, Curabare, Curuahe, Curierai, Curuara, Curuaye, Curiuaye, Curueye, 
Curiuaia, and Curuaya. Self-designation: Dyirimdin-id (?). In 
Shipaya, Kiriwai (kiri, "parokeet," plus wa, "master," plus "i," suffix of 
the collective plural). In Yuruna, Kiriwey (idem). In Mundurucu, 
Huiaunyan; Wiaunen, linguistic variant. 

History, territory, and number. — Between 1682 and 1685, the "Cara- 
vares" are mentioned for the first time. At that time a certain Gon^alves 
Paes de Aran jo, who lived among the tribe, went up the Xingu with a 
few Portuguese, some tame Indians, and Caravare. The party fell into 
an ambush of Yuruna and Tacunyape, who killed one Portuguese, all of 
the tame Indians, and 30 Caravare. The latter, "showing an insuperable 
courage and spirit rarely found among savages," managed to cover the 
retreat of the Portuguese and to get them back safely to their own lands, 
although Gonqalves Paes was severely wounded. Bettendorf says that the 
"Curabares" spoke the Lingua Geral and had 20 villages in the sertao. 
An attempt by Father Joao Maria Gersony to settle them down on the 
Xingu (before 1688?) failed because of the influence of a Portuguese 
named Manoel Paes (the same as Gonial ves Paes?), who employed them 
in the extraction of cloves (Dicypellium caryophyllatum) . After Paes 
had been killed by the Indians, the Curabare offered to go down by the 
Tapajoz River. This seems to indicate that they were already at that 
time established between the Xingu and the Tapajoz, although much 
farther north than at the end of the 19th century. (Lat. 7° S., long. 
55° W.) 

Father Roque Hundertpfund (about 1750) went up the Iriri River on a 9-day 
preaching tour to the Curibary (Curuaya) and Jacipoya (Shipaya). After a 9-day 
journey upstream, the priest was still a long way from the mouth of the Curua 
River, as it takes 18 days of rowing to get to the Curua from the Xingu. This 
proves again that the Curuaya formerly lived farther to the north. They were 
mentioned several times during the 19th century, but only through information 
given by the Yuruna and the Tacunyape. According to H. Coudreau, who had no 
direct contact with them, the tribe in 1896 inhabited the forest on the left bank (?) 
of the Curua River. The traditions of the tribe, however, only mention excur- 
sions to the west of the Curua, where they had bloody encounters with the Karuziad 
(Mundurucii) . The so-called, "Parintintin," who until 1883 attacked the Neo- 
Brazilians of the Jamaxim River, and who as late as 1895 went through the 
"seringaes" of the Crepory and Caderiry Rivers, were probably none other than 
bands of Curuaya.. This would also explain their having objects of civilized 
origin when they first met the civilized people of the Iriri and Curua Rivers. 
Beyond a doubt they themselves consider as their own territory the tributaries of 
the right bank of the Curua River from lat. 6° 30' S. to 8° 50' S. (the bayous 
Curuazinho, Bahu, and Flechas), where they were found in the 20th century. 
When the Shipaya fled from the Cayapo in 1885, retreating to the Curua River, 
they came into contact with them. By the time E. Snethlage — the only scientist 
to visit them in their own territory — saw them in 1909 and 1913, they were al- 


ready restricted to the Igarape da Flecha, and greatly influenced by the Shipaya. 
In 1913, they had two "malocas" on the bank of the Flecha; a third maloca 
12 km. away from the bayou, on the west side; and numbered about ISO. In 
1919, they numbered about 120 and inhabited, in small groups of one to four houses, 
the tributaries of the left bank of the upper Igarape da Flecha, at lat. 8° 30' S. 
About a dozen of them lived among the Shipaya on the lower Iriri, and scattered 
among Neo-Brazilians. Up to this time the Cayapd had respected the Curuaya 
territory, but from 1918 on they began to extend their incursions to the Curua 
River, and in 1934 they attacked and scattered the Curuaya. The largest group 
of the Curuaya took the road from the mouth of the Riozinho do Iriri to the 
Tapajoz ; other groups scattered along the middle Iriri. The remainder, except 
for a few who stayed on the Iriri, live together with the last of the Shipaya 
near "Gorgulho do Barbado" on the lower Curua. In all, there are perhaps less 
than 30 of them. 


Synonyms. — Taconhape, Tacoyape, Taguanhape, Tacuanape, Tacun- 
hape, Taconhape, Taconhapez, Tucunapeua, Peua. From the Tupi, 
takiinya, "penis," plus "pe," pewa, "small and flat." In Yuruna, Tacun- 
yape. In Shipaya, Tacunyape. In Kuruaya, Eidum, "honey-eater" (eid). 

History, territory, and number. — In the second half of the 17th century, the west 
bank of the Xingu above Volta Grande was known as the "side of the Jurunas," 
and the Iriri as "River of the Jurunas," while the east bank was known as the 
"side of the Taconhapes." (Lat. 4° S., long. 53° W.) The "River of the 
Taconhapes" was probably the present Pacaja, a tributary of the Xingu. 

In 1662-63, the Jesuits first tried to catechize the Tacunyape, but three-fourths 
of the Indians who had already descended the river returned to the sertao, be- 
cause the agreement made with them had not been kept. In 1667, again a number 
of Yuruna and Tacunyape were taken down to the Veiros mission, but these, 
too, soon fled back to their own lands. The third attempt was made, shortly after- 
ward, it seems, by Father Pedro Poderoso. He traveled up the Xingu for 15 days, 
and, having passed the painted stones (of Itamaraca Falls), he arrived at 
the landing place and village of the Tacunyape, where he was well received. The 
Indians who had already been taken downstream the first time refused to listen to 
any arguments, but many of the others followed the priest. Having been ill- 
treated by the captain-general of Gurupa, however, they returned to the sertao 
and never turned up again. When, in 1682, Father Antonio da Silva went to the 
"River of Taconhapes" in order to bring down the tribe of Aracaju, he made no 
mention of the Tacunyape. 

In 1685, they joined with the Yuruna in the attack against Gongalves Paes and his 
Curuaya, as well as in the subsequent revolt. Father Samuel Fritz's map (1691) 
places the Tacunyape on the right bank of the Xingu, below the "Pacaya River," 
under lat. 3° S. In 1692, Father Jose Maria Gersony once more succeeded in gather- 
ing together a large number of Indians of various tribes in Veiros, but, again, 
the intervention of the captain-general of Gurupa destroyed the project, transferring 
the Indians to Maturu (Porto de Moz) and other places. 

In the 18th century, the Jesuits succeeded in settling Yuruna and Tacunyape in 
the Tacuana (Tauaquera) mission, a little above present-day Altamira, and in 
1762 and 1784 the Tacunyape are mentioned as among the Indians settled at Portel. 

That part of the tribe which succeeded in keeping its independence seems to 
have retreated to the middle of the Curua region; that would also explain their 
friendship with the Curuaya. Shipaya tradition says that the Tacunyape joined 


them on the Iriri, having come from the upper Curua, and settled near them, on 
an island a little below the mouth of the Rio Novo. Trouble with the CayapS 
obliged them to return to their former settlement on the Xingu. There they were 
defeated in 1842 by the Yuruna, losing 10 men. A year later Prince Adalbert found 
their village, one day's journey above Tacuana, abandoned, and was unable to find 
where the tribe had taken refuge. In 1859, the Tacunyape reappeared in large 
numbers (500?), and the Government of Para decided to settle them in a new 
mission, which was kept up for some 15 to 20 years. In 1863, the fevers preva- 
lent on the Xingu had reduced them to 150. In 1884, Von den Steinen found 70 
individuals, living on an island at lat. 3° 30' S., and the rest of the tribe in that 
region became extinct within the next 15 years. In 1894, H. Coudreau still found 
about 40, but that year the smallpox decimated them, and by the end of the century 
the rest had succumbed to measles and catarrh. In 1919, the writer became 
acquainted with a single survivor, who, reared among the Shipaya, had never learned 
the language of his tribe. 

The Tacunyape became extinct without ever having been studied. We have 
merely scattered references to them in the writings of missionaries and of trav- 
elers who never stayed among them. 

Character. — The Tacunyape were considered the most tractable Indians of the 
entire region. They received the Jesuits courteously; the chiefs and people went 
out to meet them and made them sit in beautiful hammocks. They were indus- 
trious, honest, and intelligent. It is noteworthy that, while other tribes were con- 
tinually at war one with another, the Tacunyape were permanently at peace with 
the Curuaya, Shipaya, Arupai, and Arara. 


Synonyms. — Apeiaca, Apiacd, Apingui, Pariri. Self-designation: 
Opinadkom, Opinadkom (?). In Yuruna and Shipaya, Asipd ("prop" 
or "support," on account of their tattooing design). In Curuaya, I-ami- 
tug (i, "their," plus ambi, "upper lip," plus tug, "pierced"). In Cayapo, 
Kube-nyde (kube, "Indian," plus nyoe, "woodpecker [?]"). 

History, territory, and number. — In 1853, there appeared for the first time on 
the lower Xingu an unknown wandering tribe which the Neo-Brazilians henceforth 
called Arara, no one knows why. Ehrenreich without further proof considered 
them identical with their namesakes in the Madeira region, and even with the 
Yuma, remnants of which tribe still inhabit the headwaters of the Parana-pixuna, 
tributary of the right bank of the Puriis, at lat. 7° S. 

The Yuruna informed me that these Indians formerly lived in a bayou, a tribu- 
tary of the right bank of the Xingu, at the height of Carreira Comprida, perhaps 
the present-day Igarape da Fortaleza (lat. 7° 30' S.). From there they had been 
dislodged by the Cayapo. The latter, not the Suyd, are the "Autikas" to whom 
the Arara make reference. 

In 1861 and 1862, these Arara of the Xingu descended below Volta Grande, 
where they were in peaceful contact with rubber tappers for some time. 
At that time they numbered 343, not counting children. In December 1862, they 
made a surprise attack upon the crews of two canoes of Yuruna, their capital 
enemies, killing two and wounding others. A short time later they disappeared. 

In 1884, Von den Steinen saw a captive of this tribe among the Yuruna of 
the fifth village. At this time the Arara lived in the lands to the west of the 
Xingu, from the mouth of the Iriri down. The inhabitants of one Arara village, 
who had lived for a short time with their friends, the Tacunyape, had died off. 


In 1894, H. Coudreau, too, was unable to find the tribe. About this time the 
Arara disappeared from the left bank of the Xingu, and gathered at the head- 
waters of the Curuatinga, main branch of the Curua River, which flows into the 
Amazon above Santarem, where they were cruelly persecuted by rubber tappers. 
Perhaps because of these persecutions, they began to work away from the left bank 
of the lower Iriri. In 1897 they killed six rubber tappers in Nazareth, thereafter 
disappearing from that bank for good. In 1914 there was still a dwelling with 
a small clearing of theirs at the headwaters of the Curuatinga. The relations 
between these Arara and the Shipaya were usually bad, with bloody fights and 
kidnapping of each other's children. 

A short time afterward the few surviving Arara moved upstream on the Iriri, 
toward the lands on the left bank. In 1917 they vainly tried to make peace with 
the rubber tappers a little above Sao Francisco. In 1918 vestiges of these Arara 
were seen on the west bank of the Curua do Iriri, at lat. 7° 30' S., after which 
no more was heard of them. 

Another band of Arara, which numbered about 30 in 1917, settled on the right 
bank of the Pacaja do Xingu River, at lat. 3° 40' S. They worked for Neo- 
Brazilians of the Pacaja River, who also used them in warring against the Asurini, 
as happened twice about 1922. There may possibly be some isolated survivor of 
this group. There probably is still a small group of Arara on the upper Anapii, 
whose upper course approaches the Pacaja do Xingu. 

Western Arara.— In 1869, the first bands of this tribe, numbering 
about 500 persons, appeared peaceably on the western bank of the lower 
Tocantins, lat. 3° S., and were followed by other smaller groups. They 
seemed to live to the west of the Trocara Mountains. "Authorities" 
identified them as Miranya or Apiacd. In 1873, Bishop D. Macedo Costa 
took some of them to the capital. In 1889, Ehrenreich observed some 
of the survivors who were scattered through the settlements along the left 
bank of the Tocantins, almost as far as Cameta. In 1896, Ignacio Moura 
mentions a Captain Peter of this tribe, with his family, who served as a 
guide in official prosecutions of hostile Indians. He is probably the same 
man H. Coudreati saw the following- year, who lived with from 12 to 15 
individuals in the Igarape Ararinha, a little below Breu Branco. 
Coudreau calls these Indians Anembe, but the tattoo he describes and 
the name of the chief make it seem probable that they were Arara. To- 
day none are left. 

In 1910 or 1911, another band of Arara Indians appeared under the 
name Pariri. They were fleeing from the Paracana, a tribe probably of 
Tupi speech living between the tributaries of the Tocantins and the 
Pacaja de Portel, from Cachoeira Grande on upstream. The Pariri had 
settled on the Iriuana, a tributary of the left bank of the Pacaja de Portel. 
As the Paracana attacks did not let up, the rest of the tribe was o.bliged 
to take refuge with the Neo-Brazilians of the region. In 1926 there were 
still a half dozen of them ; in 1932, there remained only a boy and a girl 
in the last stages of tuberculosis. 

There is probably still another band of Arara on the Pacajahy River, 
tributary of the left bank of the upper Pacaja de Portel. The Pariri ■ 


called them Timirem or Cimirem (red). In 1913 or a little earlier, they 
came into brief contact with some rubber tappers, after which nothing 
more was ever heard of them. 


Synonyms. — Asurini (from the Yuruna, asoneri, "red"), Assurini, 
Assurinikin. In Yuruna, Surini. In Shipaya, Adyi kaporuri-ri (adyi, 
"savage," plus kaporuri, "red," kaporuri-ri, "very red"). In Curuaya, 
Nupdnu-pag (nupanu, "Indian," plus pag, "red"). In Arara, Nerimd 
(?). In Cayapo, Kube-kamreg-ti (kube, "Indian," plus kamreg, "red," 
plus ti, "augmentative"). 

Territory, history, and number. — The Asurini appear for the first time in 1894, 
when they attacked a Neo-Brazilian at Praia Grande, above the mouth of the 
Pacaja do Xingu. In 1896 they twice attacked passing canoes in Passahy (lat. 
3° 40' S.) and again at Praia Grande. In that year an armed band of 30, among 
them the Tacunyape chief, Ambrosio, pursued the attackers, but did not dare to 
attack their village. Not long after this event Ambrosio was killed and torn to 
pieces by the Asurini. By that time they were known to have settled between the 
Xingu and its tributary, the Pacaja. Toward the south they reached the boundary 
of Morro Grande (lat. 5° S.), with their principal village in the Igarape Ipixuna (lat. 
4° 40' S.), 5 days above its mouth. From then till the present, the Asurini have 
remained absolutely inacessible, almost annually attacking whatever rubber tappers 
venture into their territory. By 1917 their attacks on the right bank of the Xingu 
had almost completely ceased, but their hostilities against the civilized population 
of the Pacaja had increased. About 1922, the latter twice furnished the 
Arara with arms and munitions for a war of extermination against the Asurini, 
but with doubtful success. At least part of the Assurini remained at the head- 
waters of the Branco River, tributary of the left bank of the Pacaja (lat. 4° S., 
more or less), and in 1932 they killed a Neo-Brazilian well beyond the former 
limits of their territory, at the mouth of the Igarape de Bom Jarbim (lat. 5° 30' S.). 

In 1936, the Gorotire-Cayapo, in their northward expansion, attacked and de- 
feated the Asurini, as proved by the great number of Asurini arrows and orna- 
ments in their possession when, a year later, they made peace with the Neo- 
Brazilians. Survivors probably still exist today between the Xingu and Pacaja 
and preserve their hostile attitude. The truth of the matter is that until today 
no one has tried to pacify them. 

H. Coudreau learned that the Asurini were known as "Deer Indians" on the 
Tocantins, where they were peaceable, whereas those on the Xingu were hostile. 
However, nobody ever heard of a tribe of that name on the Tocantins — not even 
Coudreau himself, when surveying that river in 1897. The erroneously named 
"Asurini" of the lower Tocantins are Paracana, who, since about 1926, have plagued 
Neo-Brazilians on the left bank, between lat. 3° S. and 3° 40' S. Father VVilhelm 
Schmidt's guess that they are a Carajd .yubtribe is inadmissible. 



In clearings along the river, the Yuruna and Shipaya raised manioc, 
maize, potatoes, cara, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, pepper, tobacco, gourds. 


urucu, and genipa. From the manioc they made fermented flour toasted 
in clay ovens set on three stones. According to Emilia Snethlage, the 
Curuaya cultivated chiefly bananas, manioc, and other tubers in clearings 
hidden in the forest far from their homes. When visiting the TacunyapS, 
Father Pedro Poderoso was given roasted ears of maize, Brazil nuts, and 
cakes of pounded maize which had been wrapped in leaves and cooked 
under hot ashes. The Tacunyape cultivated manioc and cotton. The 
Asurini also were farmers. 

The Arara were less clearly horticultural. After their defeat and dis- 
persal by the Cayapo, they became nomadic for some time, with unfavorable 
consequences to their material culture, which originally may well have 
been of a higher type before contact with Neo-Brazilians. When the 
Arara first appeared on the Tocantins River, turtles formed their only 
medium of exchange; Neo-Brazilians, therefore, deny that they had any 
knowledge of farming. Perhaps some of the bands had really given up 
planting altogether, but at the headwaters of the Curua do Norte was 
found one of their farm clearings; moreover, they owned objects made 
of cotton and, like their congeners both north and south of the Amazon, 
they had words for "maize," "tobacco," "potatoes," "manioc," and "beiju." 

Hunting and gathering were more important to the Curuaya than to the 
Shipaya but fishing was less important. The Curuaya fished with a drug 
made from a liana. The Yuruna, though expert canoemen, did little fishing 
and, dreading to go inland, did little hunting. The Shipaya say that 10- or 
12-year old Tacunyape boys were expert hunters, never in danger of 
becoming lost in the forest. 

Caimans and turtles were major foods of the Curuaya. For the Yuruna, 
"tracajas" (a turtle species) and their eggs, even when containing em- 
bryos, were an important food. Other foods included various wild roots 
and Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa). The Yuruna also collected the 
"uauagu" nut {Orbignya speciosa). The Curuaya had great skill in ob- 
taining wild honey. 

The Yuruna and Shipaya cooked in pots set on three stones over the 
fire. They cooked fish without first cleaning it. Utensils included pots, 
gourds, cylindrical wooden mortars, which sometimes had a separate conic- 
al base, a pestle with a head on each end, large canoe-shaped wooden 
vessels, and spatulate bases of "anaja" palm leaves {Maximiliana 
regia) used as basins. They ate together, everyone sitting around the 
gourd which held manioc flour and the pot in which fish, hot with pepper, 
had been cooked. 

The only domesticated animals possessed by the Yuruna were dogs 
and chickens. In Von den Steinen's time, 1884, they were not yet in 
the habit of eating either chickens or eggs. In their huts the Yuruna 
kept a great number of wild fowls and animals. 



Constant fear of being attacked by the Cayapo and other hostile tribes 
forced the Yuruna to build their dwellings almost exclusively on the rocky 
islets of the rapids, where they were safe from the Cayapo, who had no 
skill in handling canoes. In 1843, the largest Yuruna village consisted 
of six dwellings. In 1884, the seven different villages had eight, two, 
seven, three, one, three, and two dwellings, respectively. The Shipaya 
had an even stronger tendency to isolate their dwellings and, although 
houses were sometimes quite near one another, more than two were 
never built in the same place. The Shipaya of the Curua River inhabited 
the right bank, which up to 1918 had not yet been invaded by the Cayapo. 
On the Iriri River their houses were mostly built on the rocky islands 
among the rapids and only exceptionally on the solid ground of the left 
bank, which was less exposed to Cayapo attacks than the right bank. The 
Tacunyape seem originally to have been a forest- not a river-dwelling 
people, but after their return from the Iriri to the Xingu River they, like 
the Yuruna, Shipaya, and Arupai, began to live on the islands. The 
Curuaya of the 17th century were known as forest dwellers. In contrast 
to the Yuruna and Shipaya, genuine boatmen who never strayed far from 
the islands and banks of the Xingii and Iriri Rivers, the Curuaya avoided 
the banks of the large rivers. The central maloca visited by Emilia 
Snethlage in 1913 consisted of five houses, grouped irregularly around an 
open yard. 

The typical Asurini house was a long, rectangular, tent-shaped structure 
without side walls ; one found at the headwaters of the Branco River was 
180 palmos, i.e., 128 feet (39.4 m.) in length. 

The Yuruna had two principal types of dwellings. One type had a 
rectangular or square gable roof, the rafters being set right on the ground 
and curved toward the top. Details are lacking. The other type was a rec- 
tangular hut, the roof of which came close to the ground, with ridge 
pole and perpendicular walls. The first of these dwellings was probably 
the original type. The roof was well-made with "uauagu" or "anaja" palm 
grass. The largest house visited by Von den Steinen measured 24 by 
24 m. (78 by 78 ft.), and 6 m. (20 ft.) in height; others were only 2 by 
4 m. (63^ by 13 ft.). Inside there was always a sort of loft, formed by 
a scaffolding of poles, to store food supplies, weapons, and utensils. Some- 
times this scaffolding hung from the roof. 

Shipaya dwellings were similar to those of the Yuruna. In 1913, 
Snethlage found the remains of a big, oval-shaped "maloca." The Tacun- 
yape house Von den Steinen saw in 1884 was "in Yuruna style." The 
original Curuaya house seems to have been elliptical, with a row of cen- 
tral posts and two lateral rows on either side, decreasing in height. There 
seems not to have been any space between the walls and roof ; flexible 
rafters covered with straw gave the houses the look of "long hayricks 



[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

rounded at the top," in Snethlage's description. At each end was a doot 
closed with a rush mat. 

Yurana, Shipaya, and Asurini household furniture consisted of benches 
cut out of one piece of wood (fig. 25), with a circular or oval seat and 
two sides forming legs, mats woven of palm leaves, baskets with oval 

Figure 25. — Yuruna wooden stool. (Drawn from specimens, Museu Paraense Emilio 

Goeldi, Belem.) 

lids made of "uauagu" fiber, and cotton hammocks in which the Indians 
slept at night and sat during the day. The Arara north of the middle 
Iriri River in 1917 made palm-fiber hammocks. Ciiruaya dwellings were 
not very clean, and all their utensils were dirty and carelessly made. Their 
hammocks were small and made of palm fibers ; the technique used is not 
known, but they were not woven. Their benches were crudely made 
and painted. Prince Adalbert speaks highly of the order and cleanliness 
of Yuruna dwellings. 


When still entirely free, Arara men and women were completely 
naked. In 1913, the Curuaya of the central malocas still were naked, 
but those of the river malocas dressed like the Shipaya, that is, men wore 
a belt of glass beads and covered the prepuce with a straw sheath, while 
women wore a woven loincloth. Yuruna and Shipaya women wrapped 
lengths of woven gray cloth around their waists ; these were open on one 
side and reached almost to their ankles. Von den Steinen's prints show 
some women also wearing a kind of cape with wide stripes, apparently 
made the same way. Besides a belt, which seems originally to have been 
of cotton, men wore only the truncate cone of dry "uauagu" fiber of the 
Cayapo and Bororo type which covers the male organs. This was the 
Yuruna style in 1884; 12 years later, their dress was more or less Neo- 
Brazilian (Coudreau, H, 1897 c). Tacunyape women in 1884 were 
wearing aprons of material bought from civilized people. 

Yuruna, Shipaya, and Curuaya men's hair hung loose almost to their 
waist, except when women parted it for them, making a pigtail which 
they tied with a gray twist of fibers. On their foreheads, where the 
hair-part started, there was a small circular red spot made with the pollen 


of sororoca (Ravenala guianensis). The Curuaya often wore bangs. 
The women also parted their hair in the middle, allowing it to hang loose 
behind or tying it in a loose knot. The Arara wore their hair, which 
was brown and wavy, long behind ; women's braids often reached their 
knees. The Asurini cut their hair ear-length. These tribes combed their 
hair with small one-sided combs made from stems. 

The Yuruna made beautiful headdresses of green feathers and diadems 
of parrot and macaw feathers covered with small black feathers at the 
base. The feathers were fastened between two bamboo hoops held to- 
gether by an elastic net about an inch wide. The Shipaya and Curuaya 
made men's diadems of cotton ribbons with feathers, sometimes fastened 
to straw hoops; those of braided straw in the shape of a hat brim with 
a tail of feathers or straw were used by both sexes. The Gorotire-Cayapo, 
a Ge tribe (Handbook, vol. 1) were found to have feather ornaments 
taken from the Asurini: beautiful diadems made of various overlapping 
tiers of feathers mounted on cotton ribbons. 

Yuruna men wore cotton bands 2 to 2}^ inches (5 to 6 cm.) wide 
around their upper arms and ankles ; these were crocheted on by women. 
At festivals, the anklets were often of beads. Narrower bands were also 
worn by men just below the knees. Boys and men wore a very tight 
beaded belt, preferably blue, from 4 to 6 inches (10 to 16 cm.) wide. Both 
sexes from early childhood wore strings of heavy beads around their 
necks and bandoleer-style, crossing in front and behind. Necklaces were 
made of worked peccary teeth. The Shipaya and Curuaya made similar 
bead ornaments, but showed more artistry in embroidering armbands and 
forehead bands with beads. In 1913, the Curuaya, owing to their rel- 
ative isolation, still wore more seed and nut than bead necklaces. 

Arara ornaments in the museum at Para include: A diadem of parrot 
and japu feathers, the base of which is covered with small feathers; a 
braided cotton forehead band with small red feathers ending in two 
long strings ; necklaces of black seeds and bones ; a pair of cotton arm 
bands ; a pair of bracelets of armadillo tail ; and a necklace of armadillo 

The Yuruna and Tacunyape anointed their bodies with a vegetable oil 
for protection against mosquitoes. They kept the oil in small round 
gourds decorated with painted or engraved maze designs. Asurini war- 
riors stain their bodies with urucu, whence their tribal name. The 
Yuruna, Arara, Pariri, and Shipaya, but not the Curuaya, tattooed 
the face. Until 1843 one could observe the characteristic Yuruna tattoo- 
ing to which this tribe owed its name in the Lingua Geral. Both men 
and women made a black, vertical line down the middle of the face, from 
the roots of the hair to the chin, and running around the mouth. This 
tattooing was made by incising with animal teeth and rubbing in genipa 
stain, the person's social importance being indicated by the width of the 


Stripe. According to Andre de Barros, the chiefs' faces were all black ; 
Mello Moraes says that the "most distinguished" persons generally had 
three stripes, the lateral ones being narrower. The width of the middle 
stripe is given as from 1^ to 2^ inches (3.8 to 7 cm.) by various authors. 
The tattooing was usually done in childhood. The Shipaya had ceased to 
tattoo before permanent contact with Neo-Brazilians. The Arara tattooed 
at puberty with genipa, making two vertical lines from the eye down to the 
curve of the lower jaw. The Pariri tattooed with charcoal of rubber. 

Yuruna men and Shipaya and Curuaya men and women pierced their 
ear lobes. Ordinarily, they wore nothing in their ears but for festivals 
they inserted a long red macaw tail feather, with small feathers hanging 
from its point and surrounding the base. These feathers were kept in 
tubes trimmed with small "mutum" feathers. The Arara pierced the 
nasal septum as well as the earlobe. Curuaya women wore a stone tembeta 
in the lower lip. 


The Yuruna and Shipaya "uba" canoes are well adapted to the rough 
water of the rapids. They are made of hewn cedar logs, usually hollowed 
out by means of fire. The cross section is U-shaped, and there is a sort of 
rectangular platform at bow and stern. Von den Steinen gives the follow- 
ing dimensions of a Yuruna canoe: Length, 30 feet (10.6 m.) ; maximum 
width, 3 feet (95 cm.) ; depth, 1^4 feet (39 cm.) ; thickness, 1 inch (25 
mm.) ; platform at the bow, 1 foot 10 inches by 1 foot 5 inches (57 by 
44 cm.) ; platform at the stern, 3^4 by 3 feet (1 by 0.9 m.). (Steinen got 
the measurements of the platforms reversed ! ) . These canoes can easily 
carry 10 people without baggage. They usually have an awning of rush 
mats from the middle to the rear, fastened to arched poles. The boats are 
punted by means of poles and steered by a paddle about 4^ feet (1.45 m.) 
long. The handle of the paddle, which ends in a somewhat convex cross 
bar, measures 2 feet (62 cm.) ; the blade widens toward the blunt end, and 
sometimes bears the painted maze design. 

It seems established that the Arara had no form of canoe when first met. 
They lived on and roamed over dry land, only exceptionally appearing on 
the banks of the great rivers. The Asurini also lacked canoes. The 
Curuaya, living in the heart of the forests, paid little attention to boating. 
Their original canoe was made of jutahy bark. Later, they made this 
type only in emergency and constructed crude imitations of the Shipaya 

Among devices for land transportation, the Museum at Para has an 
Arara carrying bag of interlaced cords made of palm fibers. 


Weaving. — Since the Jesuit period, Yuruna women have been famous 
for their skill in spinning cotton "as fine as hair." They wove hammocks 


on bamboo frames, measuring 6}^ by 9}i feet (2 by 3 m.). Two threads 
guided by a little piece of wood were passed horizontally through the 
vertical threads of the warp ; the weaving technique is not clearly described 
but the product was unquestionably cloth. In order to tighten or separate 
the horizontal threads, they used a small toothed wooden instrument. 

Pottery. — Yuruna pottery was simple (fig. 26, b, d), without painted 
or plastic decorations, except for the occasional addition of two small 
excrescences on diametrically opposite sides of the vessel edge. The 
principal form, used to hold water and fermented drinks, is a round jar 
with a short neck. Shipaya ceramics are coarser than those of the Yuruna. 

Figure 26. — Pottery from the lower Xingii. a, Arara; h, d, Yuruna; c, Curuaya. 
(All 2/9 actual size.) (Drawn from specimens, Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, 
Belem, and Nimuendaju and Snethlage collections.) 

Huge vessels 2^ feet (69 cm.) in diameter and equally high are used for 
fermented drinks. Exceptional pots were painted inside and outside. 
Curuaya pots resemble those of neighboring tribes, but the ware is inferior 
and vessels are small and plain. The characteristic form is a small, 
globular jar (fig. 26, c), apparently made in imitation of the capsule of the 
Brazil-nut tree. Arara pottery is very crude (fig. 26, a). 

Miscellaneous. — The Shipaya made "half -gourds" (cuias) from the 
cuiete and Lagenaria. These are painted black inside and outside and 
sometimes have maze designs. The decorations are sometimes incised on 
the shell of the green fruit. 

Other containers include an Arara vessel for dye made of the dorsal 
carapace of a turtle and a rectangular palm-straw basket with a lid and 
upright sides. 



[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

The Yuruna made candles of little wooden sticks wrapped in cotton and 
soaked in oil. 

Weapons. — The principal weapon was the bow and arrow. The club 
was known only to the Shipaya and to the Asurini (fig. 27, c) . The Shipaya 
attached a short cylindrical club to the wrist by means of a loop. A club of 


b 1^' ^ 

c 'U 

Figure 27. — Asurini weapons, a, Bow; b, hafted stone ax; c, wooden club, {.ui-dwu 
from specimens, Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Belem, and Estevao collection.) 

the Asurini in the Para Museum is 2^ feet (85 cm.) long, the handle 
covered with fibers of two colors interwoven with little skill, the end 
rounded and flattened, the blade 3 inches (8.5 cm.) wide by 1 inch (2.5 
cm.) thick, and both edges cut. The blade is slightly curved, almost like 
a machete. The cudgels found in the possession of the Yuruna were 
apparently of Cayapo origin. 

The Yuruna bow was of black wood, rectangular in cross section, over 
6^ feet (2 m.) long, and notched at the ends to hold the cord. Ctiruaya 
and Shipaya bows were similar. The Arara made powerful bows 4]/^ 
feet (1.3 m.) long with a flattened elliptical cross section about 1^ inches 
(4 cm.) wide. Asurini bows (fig. 27, a) in the C. Estevao Collection in 
Para are made of paxiuba palm, SYz to Sy^ feet (1.62 to 1.67 m.) long. 
They are distinguishable from all other South American bows by their 
exaggerated width, 2^ to 3 inches (6 to 7 cm.) ; the maximum thickness 
is Yi inch (1 cm.). The ends are notched to hold the cord, one end of 
which has a ring to slip over the lower tip of the bow. The upper half or 
third of the bow is almost always wound with dark and white cotton 
threads, while the lower part is sometimes covered with hawk down glued 

Yuruna, Curuaya, and Shipaya arrows are made of camayuva {Guadua 
sp.) and have bridged feathering. The Asurini and Arara used sewed 
feathering. The most common point is a lanceolate blade of bamboo or 
bone. Asurini arrows in the C. Estevao collection range from 4 feet 1 


inch to 5 feet 1 inch (125 to 157 cm.) in length. The shaft is of camayuva; 
the heads are: (a) of bamboo, 1 foot (32 cm.) long by 1^^ inches (4 cm.) 
wide; (&) of bone, 6 inches (15 cm.) long by ^ inch (1.6 cm.) wide, with 
a lateral barb; (c) of wood, imitating (a) and (&), or of square or tri- 
angular cross section ; (d) with four sharp wooden points. The feathering 
is sewed. The feathers, usually a hawk and a macaw feather, are very long, 
up to l}i feet (40 cm.). The point where they are tied on is sometimes 
decorated with four overlapping rows of short feathers, glued on, three 
rows of yellow feathers, one row of red. The shaft of the arrow, in the 
space between the vanes, is sometimes covered with an interweaving of 
very fine black and white fibers or cotton threads of two colors with an 
equally ornamental effect. Some arrows have a "tucuma" nut inserted at 
the point where the head is fastened into the shaft. This nut makes no 
sound and apparently serves only to keep the arrow from penetrating too 
far. The Shipaya used a fish arrow having a long cylindrical point of 
paxiuba palm wood and an incendiary war arrow with a piece of jutahy 
resin in the slit end. 

The Arara used a lance with a long bamboo point. 

An Arara ax which I observed in 1917 north of the middle Iriri River 
had a stone head, with only the cutting edge polished. The head was held 
in a cavity in the thickest part of a wooden handle by means of wax and 
string lashing. A similar Asurini ax in the Para museum has the head 
fitted so nicely into the cavity that an adhesive and lashing are unnecessary 
(fig. 27, b). 

The Arara made a chisel of a haf ted agouti tooth. 


In 1913, the Curuaya still had a village chief, although an intelligent in- 
terpreter who had a monopoly on their communication with Neo-Brazil- 
ians enjoyed much greater prestige. Emilia Snethlage believes that chief- 
tainship originally passed from father to son. By 1913, the Curuaya were 
becoming rubber collectors ; by 1919, they were mere serfs of a Neo- 
Brazilian boss. 

A certain solidarity united the Shipaya as against other tribes, but there 
was no tribal organization. From the beginning of the 20th century they 
seem no longer to have had chiefs (i-ama; i, reverential prefix) and noth- 
ing is known of their ancient functions. On war expeditions an experi- 
enced man was chosen ad hoc to take command. 

The Yuruna were divided into villages, each composed of a number of 
families (patrilineal?). A comparison of Von den Steinen's and H. 
Coudreau's data indicates that these families or communal households 
were probably relatively stable. Chieftaincy descended from father to 
son ; the war leader, however, was not the village chief but a medicine man. 


Until shortly before Von den Steinen's expedition there seems to have 
been a supreme chief of the tribe, who lived at Piranhaquara. 

Among the Shipaya, monogamy is the rule; bigamy a rare exception. 
Divorce is uncommon. The couples usually live in perfect harmony and 
treat each other on equal terms. Both men and women participate in 
religious ceremonies. Children are treated with an almost exaggerated 
tenderness, and are rarely given away to civilized people. Infanticide is 
considered a sin that provokes the anger of the god Kumapari, who ex- 
pressly forbade it. Formerly, there existed a relationship of solidarity very 
formally entered into by two individuals, maitumas, of their own free will. 
The alliance was sealed at the time of the zetabia ceremony in front of 
Kumapari's statue. The two maitumas were never to quarrel, should 
converse with each other respectfully, and should help each other 
during the remainder of their lives. As long as the Shipaya kept their 
identity as a tribe, they were known for their honesty. 

Among the Yuruna, polygyny (of the chiefs?) was practiced, a man 
having up to three wives. Since the 17th century, the Yuruna have been 
proverbially jealous of their wives; the uprising of 1666 was due to the 
a.buses of the chief of the expedition in this respect. Von den Steinen 
noted the harmony prevailing between spouses. Parental love is proved 
by the breaking of relations with the mission when the missionary sent 
some children as hostages to Belem. One day Von den Steinen's expedi- 
tion had to stop and camp long before the scheduled hour in order to 
prepare the food for the Yuruna guide's little daughter, who was feeling 
hungry. Naughty children were not beaten, but their parents treated them 
with ostentatious contempt until they mended their ways. Von den 
Steinen observed that on a canoe trip a father left his disobedient little 
daughter at the edge of the river, forcing her for a while to follow the 
canoe on foot with great difficulty. 

The old reports describe the Yuruna as brave and warlike, and both 
sexes as hard workers. The women spun and toasted flour even during 
drinking sprees. Brusque's record (1863), however, calls them lazy, 
indolent, and thievish. Von den Steinen found them affable, given to 
laughter, not thievish, and willing to help with the work. He observed 
the weeping salutation which lasted about a minute and did not provoke 
tears. When subsequently talking to the host, the visitor stood beside 
him without looking at him, but staring straight into space. Visitors 
announced their arrival by blowing a horn. 

Among the Curuaya, monogamy was the rule ; bigamy was rare, accord- 
ing to Emilia Snethlage, chiefly because of poverty and the lack of 
women, although polygyny was the theoretical ideal. Families are ap- 
parently patrilineal. There were indications of the couvade. 



There are no reports of intratribal conflict, but all these peoples were 
intermittently at war with their neighbors, though the Shipaya and Arara 
remained at peace with the Tacunyape. In the 17th century, the Curuaya 
are mentioned as enemies of the Yurima and Tacunyape ; in 1843, as 
enemies of the Yiiruna, Shipaya, and Piapdy. The Asurini and Ta- 
cunyape were at war recently. The implacable enemy of all these tribes 
was the Northern Cayapo, who, during the 18th century, made the 
Yuruna seek shelter in the rocky islands of the rivers and cut off all com- 
munications between the Yuruna and the tribes of the upper Xingu 
River until the beginning of the 20th century. We have already seen 
how the Curuaya succumbed to the Cayapo in 1934. The Shipaya had 
also been constantly menaced by the Cayapo and earlier by the Mundu- 
rucu and the now extinct Piapdy. The Shipaya had been alternately at 
peace and at war with the Yuruna, Arupai, Curuaya, and Arara but 
finally effected an alliance with the Yuruna and Curuaya, and, despite 
occasional flare-ups, intermarried and lived together with them. When 
at peace with the Yuruna, Shipaya groups sometimes settled among 
them on the Xingii. Von den Steinen's vocabulary of the language of 
the "upper" Yuruna is almost pure Shipaya, and Coudreau's map shows 
an old Shipaya maloca near that of the Yuruna of Jurucua Falls at Volta 

The Tacunyape were never at peace with the Cayapo. The Cayapo, 
while pursuing the Shipaya, attacked them at the time when they lived 
on the Iriri, and a Tacunyape raid against their assailants failed. A 
strange episode is told about this expedition ; the chief of the Tacunyape, 
mortally wounded by an arrow, requested that one of his warriors divide 
his body at the waistline with a big knife, so as to have to carry only 
the upper part of his body in the retreat to their village, leaving the nether 
part on the battlefield. 

Cannibalism. — Since the 17th century, the Yuruna have been accused 
of cannibalism, and the 18th-century Shipaya were known as cannibals. 
The other tribes did not eat human flesh. 

Father Joao Daniel, whose tendency to exaggerate makes him an un- 
trustworthy witness, states that the Yuruna kept human fat in kettles 
for seasoning their food. He also cites cases of these Indians killing 
people in order to prepare provisions for a trip. The writer also doubts 
some stories told by the Shipaya about such customs of the Yuruna. It 
is probable, however, that cannibalism really existed among the Yuruna, 
more or less under the same conditions as among the Shipaya. 

Father Joao Daniel (around 1750) called the Shipaya "warlike, cruel, 
and cannibalistic as these Yuruna," and doubtless before closer contact 
with Neo-Brazilians (around 1885), they were cannibals. Their last vie- 

653333— 47— 18 


tims may have been the Cayapo during the conflicts which resulted in the 
abandonment of the tribal dwellings on the middle Iriri. (See above.) 
Except for a few cases where vengeance was the motive, cannibalism al- 
ways took the form of a sort of communion with their national god, Kuma- 
pari, now transformed into the jaguar with an avowed man-eating pro- 
pensity. Through his medicine man, he used to manifest his desire to eat 
the flesh of the Shipaya^s enemy. The tribe then organized an expedition 
against one of the hostile tribes, the main purpose being to take one of its 
members alive. The prisoner was taken to the maloca, where he was very 
well treated. Beverages were prepared, and after the guests had arrived, 
the prisoner was killed by arrows in the yard, then scalded, quartered, 
and the pieces cooked or roasted on a rustic grill (moquem). A large pot 
full of human flesh and drink was then covered with rush mats and placed 
near the caves for Kumapari. Of those attending the feast "whoever 
wished" also ate of the enemy's meat. The killer was not subject to the 
purification prescribed for nonritual killing. 

War trophies. — Trophy taking was more common than cannibalism. 
The Yuruna kept the skulls of their slain enemies. In the uprising of 
1686, "they carried as a standard the head of a certain Sergeant Antonio 
Rodrigues, whom they had killed." Sometimes these skulls served as 
resonators for their war trumpets. They made flutes of the enemies' bones 
and used the teeth to decorate their ear lobes. The Shipaya decapitated 
a slain foe, carefully picked the flesh from the skull, fastened the maxillary 
on with wax, and filled the orbits with wax, placing small bone disks in 
their centers. The killer hung the trophy in a basket from the ridge pole 
of his dwelling. He extracted the teeth and made them into necklaces for 
himself and wife or used them to decorate earplugs. The Arara took the 
following trophies : The scalp (fig. 28, c), including the ears, stretched in 
a hoop; the skin of the face (fig. 28, b), similarly stretched and trimmed 
with tassels of beads, with a loop of beads for hanging; the skull (fig. 
28, a) , cleaned and decorated with two macaw tail feathers inserted behind 
the zygomata and with cotton fluff; and the teeth made into necklaces 
(fig. 28, d). It is reported that they stripped off the entire skin of one 
of their dead enemies. The Cumaya took trophy heads. In 1919, they 
told me that they had carefully preserved the skulls of the Shipaya killed 
in their last conflict with them, and that until recently they had danced 
with them. 


Drinking festivals. — The Yuruna attached great importance to a drink, 
malicha, made from manioc, fermentation of which was produced by 
women chewing part of the mass. Sometimes bananas were added. It was 
allowed to ferment in a canoe set up in the festival house and covered 
with banana leaves. Drinking parties often lasted for days. During such 



Figure 28.— Arara trophies, a, Skull, ornamented; b, skin of human face with open 
mouth; c, human scalp; d, human-tooth necklace. (Drawn from specimens, Museu 
Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Belem.) 


an occasion, Von den Steinen saw a gaudily adorned personage who al- 
ternately played the pari-tadada and sang, and also served drinks to the 
others. The Yuruna are not quarrelsome when they drink; they sing 
and talk to themselves, walking up and down, and pay no attention to one 

From early times, the Shipaya too were considered heavy drinkers. 
At any celebration, even a religious one, enormous quantities of fermented 
drink were never lacking. The Shipaya never became belligerently drunk, 
but behaved like the Yuruna. After contact with Neo-Brazilians, how- 
ever, they became sadly addicted to rum. The Curuaya were also pas- 
sionately fond of fermented drinks. 

The Yuruna smoked tobacco in cigarettes rolled in the thin skin of the 
tauri (Couratari sp.). 

Musical instruments. — Curuaya musical instruments include small 
panpipes, bone flutes, and two kinds of the "tore" clarinet. 

Yuruna musical instruments were: The gourd rattle (maraca), with 
a plume of macaw tail feathers at the tip; a signaling horn made of a 
gourd ; a horn of thick bamboo with lateral opening for blowing and with 
loops and tassels of feathers ; the same with sounding box made of a gourd 
or a human skull ; small panpipes ; a bone flute ; Von den Steinen's "bas- 
soon," perhaps corresponding to the Shipaya "takari" (Karl G. Iziko- 
witz's "tore clarinet") ; a great wooden trumpet (pari-tadada) used at 
drinking sprees with lateral opening for blowing and a bamboo reed 
from 5.7 to 6.1 feet (175 to 187 cm.) in length. 

Shipaya dancing and music were always linked. Some dances imitated 
certain animals in pantomime. During their sprees, they would walk up 
and down in pairs or alone, singing and playing the flute with an unearthly 

Besides the large flutes for the "zetabia" ceremony and the whistles 
for the dance of souls, the Shipaya had the same instruments as the 
Yariina : a bone flute, panpipes, a signal horn, a large conical wooden 
trumpet, painted with the maze design (pari-tadada), a small four-holed 
flute, and the "takari." This last requires four players, for it has a scale 
of four notes and each player has only one note to play. The melody 
results from each player's playing his note as required. The quartette 
forms a circle, each person holding the "takari" with his right hand, and 
placing his left on his neighbor's shoulder. While playing, they slowly 
move round and round. 

The gourd rattle, identical with the Yuruna form, is also used only by 
the medicine man. 

Art. — The Yaruna and Shipaya (fig. 29) used the maze design on 
their engraved gourds, but the former did not paint it on their bodies with 
genipa, generally limiting themselves to stripes on their forearms and legs. 


SO that, artistically, body decoration was much inferior to that of the 
Shipaya. Yuruna artists were generally women. There are numberless 
variations of the maze motif with which they cover objects and especially 
the body. Frequently, these body designs, used on festive occasions, 
are so fine and intricate that they can only be seen at close range. Besides 
the maze motif, there are also curvilinear patterns. 

The most important Shipaya sculptural products, statues of mythological 
personages, do not show great development in this type of work. Little 
figures of armadillos and other animals are carved from a palm nut 
(Bactris sp.) and made into necklaces. Wooden spoons sometimes appear 
in artistic and original forms, the handle ending in the form of a clenched 









J fln^l'ni 

Figure 29.—Shipaya painted decorations. (Drawn from sketch by Curt Nimuendaju.) 



[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

fist, etc. In 1896, H. Coudreau found in an abandoned Shipaya tribal 
house a number of small carved, wooden figures representing animals, a 
canoe, and other objects. These were well done. (See figs. 30, a, d, j; 
31, for similar Yuruna specimens.). 


Figure 30. — Lower Xingu wood carvings and manufactures, a, d, f, Yurima carved 
toys ( ?) ; h, c, Yuruna and Arara wood and cord combs; e, Yuruna carding comb. 
(Drawn from specimens, Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Belem.) 



a b 

Figure 31. — Yuruna carved wooden toys (?). (Drawn from specimens, Museu 
Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Belem.) 


The principal figure in Shipaya religion is the god Kumapari, son of 
another god of the same name, and father of Kunyarima, whose uterine 
brother was Arubiata. Kumapari stole fire from the tapir hawk and 
created man from arrow-reeds, making the Shipaya first of all, whence his 
title of Sekarika (Our Creator). The brothers carry out a series of diffi- 
cult tasks, by order of Kumapari, who in these episodes bears the title 
Marusawa (Tupi: morubisawa, "chief?"). In these adventures Kun- 
yarima gives proof of intelligence and courage, while Arubiata tries in 
vain to imitate him, always failing and saved only through his brother's 
intervention. Kumapari, angry with all men, goes away down the Xingu, 
to the north, where, at the end of the world, sky and earth meet. At first 
of human shape, he now has the form of an old jaguar. He has turned 
into the god of war and cannibalism, and is the object of a real cult. Con- 
secrated to Kumapari were: medicine men to whom he would directly 
manifest himself ; their helpers ; and the god's wives, who never married 
men and had certain religious duties. 

Sometimes Kumapari or the two brothers ordered statues (upasi) to 
be made: cylindrical posts with human heads carved and painted on 
them by the demon's wives. A ceremony (zetabia) would take place in 
front of the statues with two large flutes of thick bamboo, held by these 

Among the many other gods or spirits of the earth and sky, the most 
important are the terrible Apu-sipaya (Jaguar of Heaven), the aquatic 
demon, Pai, and the Great Snake, Tobi, from whose ashes sprang all 
cultivated plants. Respect for these spirits, the help they can give men, 
and fear of their anger and malevolence constitute, together with magic 
and the worship of souls, Shipaya supernaturalism. 

The soul is composed of two parts: the awa, which after death turns 
into a specter that frightens but does not kill people ; and the isawi, which 


inhabits certain large rocks or hills inside which it lives a life similar to 
that of the living. Jointly, all the isawi are called i-anai (i, reverential 
prefix, plus ana, plus i, suffix of the collective plural). 

From time to time, the i-anai again desire to be among the living and 
advise the medicine man, who then orders an i-anai karia (feast of the 
souls of the dead). The ceremonies only take place at night and last 8 
or more nights. One by one, the souls enter the medicine man in order 
to dance and drink with the living. The medicine man appears from 
the interior of a dark house bringing the jugs of fermented drink, which 
are wrapped up closely in a rectangular cape of heavy coarse cotton, woven 
in the "double thread" technique. These threads are covered with cotton- 
wool, so that the cape resembles a sheep's fleece. The cape is fastened 
to a hoop worn on the head, and from which hang thick black fringes 
hiding the wearer's face. A wreath of parrot feathers decorates the head, 
and the bottom of the cape is bordered with wing and tail feathers of 
the mutum, which touch the ground. The wearer is completely covered, 
suggesting a white pillar. The soul is summoned with shouts and the 
music of two flutes, a single and a double one, fastened together with a 
thread. It then enters the circle formed by women and men, who welcome 
it with laughter. In a nasal voice, the soul sings a short verse several 
times, following the circular dance of the others, then disappears into 
the house, yielding its place to another soul. This ceremony ends with 
a great drinking orgy. Throughout the celebration the participants refrain 
from sexual intercourse. The souls of those recently dead never appear 
on such occasions. The festival ends with the medicine man's ceremonially 
restoring to each participant his isawi, of which the souls had deprived 
him, for its loss would spell death. 

The medicine man is, above all, the intermediary between the laity and 
the gods, the spirits, and the souls of the dead. The prerequisite for the 
profession is a tendency toward dreams and visions, a good teacher 
subsequently instructing the tyro how to develop and use his gift. 

Magic, that is, the art of curing and of causing illness, as well as of 
securing special advantages, is a secular science. It is in no way con- 
nected with the spirits and the souls of the dead, although exercised by 
the medicine man, who heals by sucking and massaging, removing harm- 
ful influences from the patient's body, and transferring them to a green 
branch (compare Yuruna) ; he also blows tobacco smoke over the patient. 

The Yuruna believed in the god the Shipaya call "Kumapari," with 
whom some of their medicine men had direct communication, and also 
in the culture hero Kunyarima. One of their ceremonies, observed by 
Von den Steinen, is in every detail identical with the Shipaya Dance of 
Souls (i-anai Karia). The souls, like those of the Shipaya, lived in 
certain large rocks, safe from high water, such as Pedra Preta, Pedra de 
Caxinguba, and Pedra Seca, to which due reverence was given. What 


Kletke says about a benevolent diety and a malevolent deity seems not 

The medicine man cured by violent massaging, forcing the pathogenic 
substances from the body into green branches, which were then carefully 
taken outdoors. Meanwhile, the patient remained lying in his hammock. 

At a Curuaya feast, E. Snethlage saw two posts carved with human 
faces similar to the Shipaya statues. It is not known whom they repre- 
sented. The medicine man's hammock was hung between these posts, 
and behind them was the canoe with the fermented drink. In the Curuaya 
mythology there are two pairs of brothers, Witontim and Aizau, whose 
parents are called Karu-pia and Imiriwon, and Kabi-sau (kabi, "sky") 
and Zaizu-sau (zaizu, "armadillo"). The significance of the so-called 
"karuara" (in the Lingua Geral), cotton tufts hanging from the ceiling 
in small vases or baskets, is not certain. Emilia Snethlage says that they 
contained pathogenic substances the medicine man, an important person 
in the village, extracted from the body of patients. In his house there 
was a room walled with bark and closed to visitors, in which he effected 
his cures. Snethlage assumes an astral cult, a supposition the writer was 
unable to confirm. 

Nothing is known concerning animism or burial practices. 

The Shipaya say that the Tacunyape celebrated the dance of souls. The 
cape worn for the dance was of palm fiber, closed all around, with an 
opening for the head. The souls of the dead came from the forest to 
participate in the drinking, but did not sing or dance with the living. 

Shipaya and Yuruna dead were interred inside the house, the hammocks 
of the closest relatives being hung near the burial. Later, the bones were 
removed, cleaned, and put away in a basket, which was hung under the 
ridge pole. The writer does not know what was finally done with them. 
The closest women relatives cut their hair as a sign of mourning. 


Adalbert von Preussen, 1849, 1857; Adam, 1896; Bettendorf, 1910; Brusque, 1863; 
Coudreau, H., 1897 c; Daniel, 1841; Ehrenreich, 1891 a, 1895, 1897 a; Fritz, 1922; 
Heriarte, 1874; Kletke, 1857; Krause, 1936 b; Laet 1899; Macedo Costa, 1875; Maciel 
Parente, 1874; Martius, 1867; Meyer (see Krause, 1936 b) ; Moraes, 1860; Moura, 
1910; Nimuendaju, 1914 b, 1921-22, 1923-24, 1929 b, 1930 a, 1932 a, 1932 b, 
mss.; Snethlage, 1913, 1920-21; Snethlage and Koch-Griinberg, 1910; Steinen, 1886. 


By Curt Nimuendaju 


Territory. — The Maue territory, a region of solid land, was bounded 
by the lower Tapajoz, the Amazon, the bayou of Uraria, the bayou of 
Ramos, lat. 5° S., and long. 58° W. (map 1, No. 1 ; map 4). On the 
banks of the Tapajoz River and the bayous, the tribe lived only tempo- 
rarily under the influence of civilized people. 

Bettendorf (1910) does not mention the name Maue, but writes of 
Andira and Maragud in the region where the Maue are mentioned a little 
later. These two groups are probably local Maue subdivisions. The 
Andira undoubtedly inhabited the Andira River, which up to the present 
time is a Maue region. 

History. — The Jesuits came into contact with these tribes after the Mission to 
the Tupinamharana was founded in 1669. In 1698, the Andira welcomed P. Joao 
Valladao as a missionary. It is impossible to locate the Maragm accurately, but 
they were on a lake between the Andira and the Abacaxy Rivers, probably on the 
lower Mauhes-assu, which widens out to form a sort of lake. They had three 
villages, near one another (Bettendorf, 1910, p. 36). In 1692, after they had killed 
some White men, the Government declared "just war" against them, which was 
unsuccessful, as the Indians were forewarned and scattered, only a few offering 
any resistance. In 1696, the Jesuits took up residence among the Maragud, 100 
of whom were transferred in 1698 to the village of Guama, near Belem. The 
Maragud are not mentioned in the 18th century. 

The Mabue {Maue) appear for the first time on P. Samuel Fritz's map (1691) 
of the Amazon, which places them just west of the Tapajoz, at lat. 3° 30' S., 
the present habitat of the Maue. The Maragud were south of the Amazon, op- 
posite the Trombetas River, and the Andira on a water course which might have 
been the Ramos Bayou. 

According to Father Joao de Sao Jose (1847, p. 101), in 1762 the Mague 
lived below the falls of the Tapajoz River, 4 leagues (about 11 miles) inland. The 
Sao Jose (Pinhel) and Santo Ignacio (Boim) Missions on the Tapajoz were 
settled with Mague. In 1762, the Indians of the latter mission killed the director 
of the village. When they also murdered some merchants, the governor, Ataida 
Teive, in 1869 forbade any commerce with them hoping to starve them into sub- 
mission (Nunes Pereira, 1939). After the Brazilians and Mundurucu made peace, 
some of the latter joined some Maue in settling a little below the present city of 



Mauhes, where Martius (1867) saw them in 1819. In 1832, another bloody con- 
flict took the lives of some civilized men (Souza, A., 1870, p. 86). In 1823, the 
village of Itaituba was founded on the Tapajoz River with Maue, and in 1828 
there were 400 of them settled there. 

The Andird mission flourished from 1848 to 1855 under Father Pedro de Ciriana, 
despite conflicts between the missionary and the Parintins authorities. In 1849, 
it had 507 Maue; in 1851, 570; and in 1852, 665, not counting a large number of 
civilized people. In 1855, the missionary's place was taken by a parish priest 
(Tenreiro Aranha, 1852, p. 32; Correa de Miranda, 1852, p. 128; Coelho, 1849, 
p. 784; Wilkens de Mattos, 1856, p. 128). 

In 1862 there were 4 villages in the Tapajoz region with 3,657 Maue (Souza, A., 
1870, p. 25). At the beginning of the 20th century, all but one of these villages 
on the tributaries of the Tapajoz were destroyed by the rubber gatherers of 
Itaituba, who took possession of the land. As a result, the Maue took sides 
openly with the Amazon forces in the armed conflict of 1916 between this State 
and Para. 

In 1939, Nunes Pereira (1939) estimated that there were 2,000 to 3,000 Maue 
in the Andira region, a figure which may have been a little high. 

An adequate study has not been made of the Maue. Martius did not live with 
them very long. 

Reports on Maue character, based on direct observation, are generally favorable. 
Bates (1863) called them "invariably friendly to the Whites"; Katzer (1901) 
found them always friendly, unusually intelligent, quick to understand, and capable 
of clear expression. The present author regarded them as suspicious and inclined 
to lie though not to thieving, and as peace-loving and gay. Nunes Pereira (1939) 
found them skillful and peace-loving. 

Language. — The Maue language is known through six vocabularies. 
(Coudreau, H., 1897 a; Katzer, 1901; Anonymous, ms. b; Nimuendaju, 
1929 a, 1929 b; Koch Griinberg, 1932.) Fundamentally, it is Tupi, but 
differs from the Guarani-Tupinamba. The pronouns agree perfectly with 
the Curnaya-Mundurucu, and the grammar, insofar as the material permits 
analysis, is Tupi. The Maue vocabulary, however, contains an element 
that is completely foreign to Tupi but which cannot be traced to any other 
linguistic family. Since the 18th century, the Maue language has incorpo- 
rated numerous words from the Lingua Geral. 

Ethnographical sources. — Barboza Rodrigues (1882 b) visited the 
Maue in 1872, but his information lacks confirmation in some particulars. 
The present author made a brief visit in 1923 to the more civilized Maue 
on the Mariacua River. The most recent and detailed information is that 
of Nunes Pereira in 1939. 


Farming. — The Maue have always had remarkable interest in agri- 
culture, but lost much of it with the development of the rubber industry. 
They grow manioc, potatoes, cara (Dioscorea), beans, and lima beans: 


nowadays, they also cultivate rice and coffee, which they prepare and drink 
in the Brazilian manner. They still plant their old fruit trees, and they 
grow kitchen and medicinal herbs on platforms. They also cultivate a 
few Old World fruit trees. To plant root crops, they use a clean turtle 
skull to pull the earth over the cuttings, believing that this will increase 
production. At planting and harvesting times, the owner of a field 
organizes a feast to reward his helpers. 

Hunting. — The Maui are good hunters, though hunting is not an 
important activity. Today many of them use fire arms, but in Martins' 
time, they would refuse any game killed with guns or with dogs, leading 
one to believe that originally dogs were as foreign to them as fire arms. 
Martins was informed that the Maue acquired blowguns and poisoned 
blowgun darts from their neighbors to the west, but this was not confirmed 
by any other author. Nunes Pereira mentions some practices believed to 
influence hunting : They pluck the breast and neck feathers of hunted fowl, 
burn them, and rub them on their guns ; they wash their guns and dogs 
with an infusion from a marsh plant called "jasmin de lontra" ; a gun 
will be lucky if a cipo snake is allowed to decompose inside the barrel, and 
it will be unlucky if it comes into contact with a pregnant or menstruating 
woman. The Maue do not use game traps or lures of any kind. 

Fishing. — They take fish with weirs, a special single-headed arrow 
poisoning the water with a drug called timbo and, nowadays, fishhooks. 
That they do not eat the large river fish but utilize only the smaller fish 
of creeks and forest pools (Martins, 1867) supports the assumption that 
they have habitually avoided the large rivers. 

Wild-food gathering. — Martins states that the Maue roamed the 
forest in search of palm fruits of various kinds, Brazil nuts, and piqui fruit. 
They eat winged female sauva ants, which they take at swarming time, 
roast, and pound with manioc flour. They also eat termites roasted in 
banana leaves. Spix and Martins (1823-31, 3:1,318). state that they 
introduced a slender stick into the anthill so that the insects took hold of it 
and were thus conveyed to the mouth. They also eat a species of 


According to Martins, the Maui lived in round single-family houses. 
Their recent settlements consist of one or more huts, which are usually 
rectangular with a gable roof and overhanging eaves but without walls. 
These are well thatched with leaves of the carana palm. The kitchen is 
generally in a separate hut, where the manioc flour is made. Nunes 
Pereira mentions "rooms" in the Maui houses, and also a "dance house" 
and the "house of menstruating women." 

The main pieces of furniture are wooden benches carved out of a solid 
block of wood. Cotton hammocks are twined, and the ends of the warp 


are attached to special cords (sobrepunhos), which extend beyond them 
to form loops, by which the hammock is suspended (Nimuendaju, ms.). 


Nothing is known regarding aboriginal Maue dress. These Indians 
quickly adopted their present clothing from the Brazilians, although many 
still are naked from the waist up. They did not disfigure or tattoo them- 
selves. Martins was told, however, that some persons pierced the lower 
lip and inserted a small piece of wood in it. No authors mention body 


The aboriginal Maue, a sedentary and agricultural people, lived inland 
from the rivers, and were not a canoeing people. Sao Jose states that 
"they usually do not know how to swim." Cerqueira e Silva (1833, 
p. 273) says that they will not ford the Curauahy River, preferring 
to take a great deal of trouble to make swinging bridges of vines. 
This may be explained by their aversion to water. Martins stated that they 
used canoes, some of the "uba" type hollowed out of guanani logs and 
others made of jutahy bark. They are poor canoeists even today, but 
they have a few canoes which are either acquired direct from the civilized 
population or else, like their paddles, are rough imitations of those used 
by the Whites. On the other hand, they make long treks on foot, with 
the heavy basket ( jamaxim) on their backs, showing admirable endurance. 


Basketry. — From palm leaves and creepers, the Maue make baskets 
with and without lids, sieves, strainers, fans, carrying baskets, hats, and 
brooms. Some baskets with lids are made of red and black strips. These 
articles are generally sold to civilized people. 

Pottery. — The only earthenware objects made today are pans to dry 
out the manioc flour ; no reference to other types occurs in the literature. 
Scattered about in old dwellings in the Maue territory may be found plain 
black sherds. 

Gourds and calabashes. — Gourd containers lack ornamentation, but 
calabashes sometimes are fire engraved on the green exterior. 

Weapons. — The bow, flat on the belly and convex on the outside, is 
made of a red wood and has specially made points to hold the ambauva 
(Cecropia sp.) cord. Martins says Maue bows were a useful article of 
trade. The arrows have arched feathering. The points are of: (1) 
bamboo, rather small and lance-shaped; (2) bone, forming a barb; 
(3) iron, for hunting tapir; (4) wood, bilaterally serrated; and (5) for 
fishing, an iron nail forming a barbed point. The Maue also have little 


arrows for children, with a small crosspiece of sticks at the end. They 
have no arrows with wooden plugs and do not use pellet bows. There 
are no reports of clubs. 


According to Martius, the Mane were divided into "hordes" ; he cites 
12 of these, giving their names in the Lingua Geral. Some of them, how- 
ever, may not belong to the Maue tribe. 

According to Nunes Pereira, the Maue believe themselves to be 
descended from the animals or plants that lend their name to each "nation" 
(i.e., Martius' "hordes"). We have no details or confirmation on this 

Families are patrilocal. 

Maue chiefs enjoy remarkable authority even today, and there seems 
to be a hierarchy of officials. Succession is patrilinear. There used to be 
a special burial ceremony for chiefs. 

Carefully preserved in the choir of the chapel of the Indian village 
of Terra Preta, Nunes Pereira found an article which resembles a club, 
but which the author calls a "magic paddle." It is made of dark wood, 
45 inches (1.1 m.) long, 4 inches (11 cm.) greatest width, and 18 inches 
(45 cm.) thick, narrowing toward the end, which resembles a top. The 
larger half is ornamented on both sides with carved rhombs, points, and 
bands, one of which bears an ornament derived from a basketry motive. 
It was made by the third predecessor of the present chief and has been 
transmitted to each. The designs allegedly refer to the tradition of the 
tribe, but no explanation of them is given. The Maue call the object 


Pregnancy and childbirth. — During pregnancy, both parents are 
obliged to observe a strict diet of ants, fungi, and guarana dissolved in 
water. To let their blood at this time, many cut their arms and legs with 
a rodent's tooth or a toucan's bill set into a handle, starting profuse hem- 
orrhages. Into these wounds they rub the ashes of burned genipa fruit 
(Martius, 1867), To facilitate childbirth, the woman's hips are bathed 
beforehand in the ashes of paca skulls or of birds' eggshells mixed with 
water. After the birth, the parents' first food consists of fungi and two 
kinds of ants (sauva and maniuara). The mother has a postpartum 
rest period of a month, and the father goes on a diet of porridge 
(mingau) and guarana. The first food taken after this period is inambu 
Tinamus sp.) flesh (Nunes Pereira, 1939). 

Children are carried in a sling hung around the neck. It is made of 
raw fibers, the ends being tied with a black string. Sao Jose (1847) 


states that the Maue practiced infanticide and abortion. Before puberty, 
girls wear colored bands on their arms and below their knees. 

Puberty. — At their first menstruation, girls retire to a hammock hung 
to the rooftree. They maintain a rigorous diet until the end of the second 
menstruation, taking only manioc cakes (beiju), fish, and water (Mar- 
tius, 1867). Nunes Pereira states that they are fed fungi, which their 
parents bring them, and that, at the end of this period, they eat inambu 
and toucan flesh. The author fails to explain whether the "house of 
menstruating women" which he saw was used only for the first menstrua- 
tion, or for all. In some Indian villages, the same author says, women 
retire to the "room of unmarried women" during menstruation. 

All authors establish some relation between boys' puberty and the 
Celebration of Tucandira. The Maue told the present author that the 
application of tucanderas (stinging ants), though highly recommended 
at any time of life, is necessary in boyhood, especially if a youth were 
somewhat retarded in his physical development, and in old age, when 
strength began to fail, and in cases of weakness. Nunes Pereira was 
informed that boys of 6 and young men of 20 (?) were stung. The 
ceremony, however, has not been witnessed, except by Barboza Rod- 
rigues, who was present for 2 days. His description lacks confirmation 
on some points. He states that it was celebrated annually in the main 
hut by convocation of the chief. Everybody brought drinks and bar- 
becued meat. The ants, benumbed by having been left in water over- 
night, were caught in the mesh of a textile which was used to line a flat- 
tened or cylindrical "glove," artistically woven from strips of fibers and 
adorned with macaw and royal hawk feathers. Everybody gathered in 
the chief's yard, the women seated in a circle within the circle of men. 
The chief in the center held the "gloves." The singing began, and the 
chief shook his rattle (maraca) while the others played bambu flutes 
and drums. After blowing tobacco smoke on the ants, the chief put 
the glove on one of the young men, who danced, yelling and howling, 
inside the circle, amidst the applause of the crowd, until a woman or 
the chief took the glove off him. After this, everyone moved on to the 
nearest house and repeated the ceremony. According to Barboza Rod- 
rigues (1882 b), a boy had to endure seven applications of ants, but 
their sequence, and the relation between them and marriage was not 

Martius reports that a cotton sleeve containing ants was first applied to 
boys between 8 and 10. When they began to cry and scream, the spec- 
tators drew them into a noisy dance, until they fell exhausted. Then 
their stings were treated by older women with the juice of the manioc 
leaf, and, as soon as they felt better, they had to try to draw their bows. 
This ceremony was repeated until the age of 14, when a boy could bear it 
without flinching and was considered ready to marry. According to 


Martius (1867), the Maue counted their age by the number of applica- 
tions, but the words, in the Lingua Geral, which he gives in this connec- 
tion — jiibir jepe, jiibir mocoim, etc. — only mean "one turn, two turns," 
etc. (jebyr, "turn"). 

Marriage. — Today the Maue are monogamous, but formerly polygamy 
was permitted. There is no special marriage ceremony (Nunes Pereira, 
1939). The candidate asks the girl's parents for their consent and it is 
given after long deliberation, even if she has not yet reached puberty. The 
couple settle in their own hut. 

Married women are excluded from dances. All women are forbidden 
to have any contact with persons outside the tribe and to use the Portu- 
guese language, a prohibition which is not always observed nowadays. 

Death and burial. — Today the Maue bury in cemeteries, more or less 
in Christian fashion, but they still place the deceased's personal belongings 
in the grave. The family observes a fast (Nunes Pereira). Formerly, the 
dead were buried inside their house, in a sitting position. Martius states 
that at the death of a chief, the tribe was obliged to go on a diet of ants 
and guarana for a month. During the first 2 weeks of this time, the chief's 
dead body, stretched out and tied to laths, was dried between fires ; then 
it was buried, in a sitting position propped up with stones and sticks 
in a round hole. The hole was not filled with earth, and at the end of the 
month the body was taken out and exposed for a day. The whole tribe 
danced around the body, weeping so that their tears ran into their mouths 
and were swallowed. In the evening the body was buried in the same place 
and position, and the celebration continued all night with dancing and 
drinking. In one instance, when a chief died during a trip, his companions 
severed his body in two below the ribs, dried the halves, and brought them 
back to the village. 


The Maue, though brave, were less warlike than the Mundurucu, with 
whom they warred until the second half of the 18tli century. According 
to Barboza Rodriguez (1882 b), the Maue who took part in the last fight 
between the two tribes had lines of black tattooing on the thorax, similar 
to that of the Mundurucu. They sometimes took prisoners of war. They 
used the skulls of slain enemies as drinking vessels, and their long bones 
as flutes. Before fighting, they took guarana (Martius, 1867) . 


Ornaments. — The Maue were formerly famous for articles made of 
feathers, which were important commodities in their trade. Martius 
mentions scepters and head and neck ornaments. The feather art has 
disappeared, with the exception of some feather ornaments on the instru- 



ment used during the Celebration of Tucandira. The Maue still wear neck- 
laces of small figures carved out of the hard nut of certain palms 

Musical instruments. — Drums are heavy cylinders of wood, with one 
end covered with leather. They are laid horizontally and played with the 
hands. The Maue also use violins and caracachas, which are serrated 
bambu cylinders scraped with a small stick. 

Drinks and narcotics. — The Maue are very fond of a drink made from 
dried cakes of manioc flour (the aroba or paiauaru of Neo-Brazilians). 

Since the Maue were first mentioned by Bettendorf (1910, p. 36), they 
have been famous for their cultivation and preparation of guarana (Paul- 
linia sorbilis), of which they enjoyed the monopoly. The fruit is roasted 
in an oven, pounded in a mortar, and made into hard, cylindrical rolls. A 
little is grated off by means of a stone, and the powder is dissolved in 
water in a gourd. This drink is called capo. People in groups take it 
many times a day. The head of the house drinks it first and then it is 
passed from right to left among the others. The Maue believe that guarana 
brings them luck in any transactions, that it gives joy, and that it is a 
stimulus to work, preventing fatigue and hunger. 

In planting, the seeds are carefully chosen, as are later the young plants. 
A medicine man goes through a ceremony over the ground when it is 
ready for planting, and there are celebrations with dancing and drinking. 
Formerly, the Maue, enjoyed a considerable trade in guarana, but by the 
end of the last century, it had decreased with the rise of the rubber industry, 
and today the greater part of the guarana for commercial purposes is 
produced by Neo-Brazilians of the region. 

The Maue explained to Nunes Pereira that guarana constitutes a pro- 
tection or charm for them : That it brings rain, protects their farms, cures 
certain diseases and prevents others, and brings success in war and in 
love, especially when there are two rivals for the affections of one woman. 
To the present author, they recommended it as well as parica for its magic 
effects against storms. 

Parica, made from the seeds of Mimosa acacioides, is now little used. 
The seeds are roasted and finely pulverized in a carefully made, shallow 
basin of a red wood, and the powder is dried on a flat piece of wood "or 
of porcelain" (Spix und Martius, 1823-31, 3:1,318). The Indians use 
two long tubular bones to sniff the powder up into both nostrils simul- 
taneously, or they rolled a piece of banana leaf into a tube (Ratzel, 1894, 
1:509). There is a statement by Martius (1867, p. 411) which could 
be interpreted as meaning that the Maue also used parica as a clyster, 


Today all Maue are baptized and have chapels in their villages with 
images of the saints, which they worship on their own account with 


litanies, imitating the Christian service in Latin. These services end in 
dancing and drinking. In these celebrations, they use musical instruments. 
Regarding their former religion, Martins (Spix and Martins, 1823-31, 
3:1,331) was informed that there were vestiges of a belief in a god and 
in the power of evil demons. 


Nunes Pereira (1939) speaks of shamans of great reputation who 
carry out ceremonies designed to bring about an excellent harvest of 
guarana. All guarana plantations must be "blessed" by the shaman. 
Some shamans cure diseases ; others are evil magicians who cause them. 
The Maue greatly fear sorcery, and attribute all deaths to witchcraft, even 
if the supposed spell was cast over a year previously. Their reluctance 
to take medicine furnished by civilized people is prompted by their fear 
of spells. All shamans work with an assistant. Today they take a strong 
manioc drink (taroba) to stimulate them to action. Magic is exercised 
by the shaman, but everybody knows something about medicinal plants 
and animal products. Uaciri-pot, the chieftain and shaman, who probably 
lived in the first half of the last century, had the power of capturing the 
"mother of sickness" in the plaza by means of conjurations, magic ges- 
tures, and lines drawn upon the ground. 


Two legends are recorded (Nunes Pereira, 1939). In the first, the 
true timbo (a fish drug) and the false timbo originated from the legs of 
a buried child who had been killed by a spell cast by the fish ; water was 
invented by these same fish. In the second, guarana originated from the 
eyes of a boy who was born of the contact of a girl with a little snake, 
and who was killed by his uncles. From the buried body, several animals 
were born. The boy was finally resurrected and became the first Maue. 


In the 17th and 18th centuries there lived to the west of the lower 
Tapajoz, a tribe of Indians called Arapium (Fritz, 1691, (see Volume 1, 
map 7) Arapiyu), lat. 2° 30' S., long. 55° 30' W., which the Jesuits 
gathered at the beginning of the 18th century in the Cumaru Mission 
(Villa Franca) at the mouth of the Arapiuns River. Both Martins (1867) 
and Metraux (1928 a) considered them to be the same as the Maue. The 
only ethnological data regarding them are the following, from Joao Daniel 
(1841, pp. 168-71, 478) , who saw them : 

Girls undergoing their first menstrual period were secluded and made 
to fast. After the fast, the girl was bled from head to foot with a cutia 
tooth. She then negotiated a marriage with the first young man she saw. 


Before marrying, a young man had to place his arms in long gourds 
full of sauva ants {Atta sp.) to show his courage. A drinking feast 
concluded the ceremonies. 

A dead man's flesh was eaten by his relatives. Old women pulverized 
his bones and mixed them in drinks. 

The Arapium held celebrations in honor of the new moon. They went 
out when it first appeared and stretched out their arms, hands, and fingers, 
as if asking for health and strength. 

Of these cultural features, only the girls' menstrual seclusion and 
fasting and the young man's ant ordeal are found also among the Maui. 
The others differ from Maue customs, proving that the Arapium were 
most likely an offshoot of the Tapajo tribe. The present author, explor- 
ing the Arapiuns River in 1924, found many old Indian dwelling places 
where the pottery, with its plastic ornamentation, was very different from 
that found in the region of the Maue, being much more similar to that 
of the Tapajo. After 1762, when the Arapium were last mentioned as 
living in Obidos and on the Arapiuns River, there is no further informa- 
tion regarding them. 


Almeida Serra, 1869 (1779); ms. b; Barboza Rodrigues, 1882 b; Bates, 1863; 
Bettendorf , 1910 ; Cerqueira e Silva, 1833 ; Coelho, 1849 ; Correa de Miranda, 1852 ; 
Coudreau, H., 1897 a; Daniel, 1841; Florence, 1841 (?) [1825-29]; Fritz, 1691; 
Furtado, 1858; Katzer, 1901; Koch-Griinberg, 1932; Martius, 1867; Metraux, 1928 a; 
Monteiro Baena, 1843 ; Nimuendaju, 1929 a, 1929 b ; ms. ; Nunes Pereira, 1939 ; Ratzel, 
1894; Ribeiro de Sampaio, 1825; Sao Jose, 1847; Souza, A., 1870; Souza, C, 1874; 
Souza Franco, 1842 ; Spix und Martius, 1823-31 ; Tenreiro Aranha, 1852 ; Wilkens de 
Mattos. 1856. 


By Curt Nimuendaju 



From the beginning, these Indians have been known as Mura (pro- 
nounced Murd by their neighbors, the Tord and Matanawi of the Madeira 
River). Their name for themselves, however, according to Barboza 
Rodrigues (1892 b, p. 38), is Buhuraen, and according to Father Tastc- 
vin (1923 a), Buxivaray or Buxwarahay. In the author's vocabularies, 
the following forms are given as self -designations : Bohura (Manicore 
River) ; Bhurai-ada, meaning "Mura language" (Manicore River), and 
Bohurai; Bohuarai-arase, "Mura language" ; Nahi huxwara araha, mean- 
ing "that one is Mura" ; Yane abahi araha buxwardi, "we are all Mura." 

The Mura were first mentioned in 1714 in a letter by P. Bartholomeu 
Rodrigues (in Serafim Leite, 1943), who located them on the right bank 
of the Madeira River, between the Tora and the Unicore, between lat. 
6° and 7° 40' S. They were hostile toward the Jesuit mission founded 
in 1723 or somewhat later above the mouth of the Jamary River, and, 
because of this hostility, the mission was transferred farther down the 
river in 1742. Their unfriendly attitude was the result of a treacherous 
act committed by a Portuguese trader who had kidnapped some of the 
Mura and sold them as slaves. 

For over 100 years, beginning in the early 18th century, the Mura 
were a terrible scourge. The first expedition up the Madeira River into 
Mato Grosso, under the leadership of Major Joao de Souza, had bloody 
encounters with the Mura and threw the Indians back with great losses. 
The Mura then avoided open battle and resorted to ambush for which 
they became famous. 

In 1749, when Joao Gongalves da Fonseca's expedition had several encounters 
with them, the Mura were established on a lake on the right bank of the Madeira 
River, opposite the "mouth of the Autaz" (Madeirinha, a little above Borba). 
By 1768 they had passed to the region north of the Solimoes (Cudajaz) River, 
but before this date they had extended to the lower Funis (Moraes, 1860, p. 535). 
Upstream, however, they did not go beyond the mouth of the Jamary River. 



It seems, therefore, that the original habitat of the Mura was on the Madeira 
River, below the falls and near the mouth of the Jamary River; and that, after 
they had become a warrior tribe and were aware of the effectiveness of their 
tactics, they spread out downstream on the Madeira River and as far as the 
Purus River, and from the latter as far as the Cudajaz River, which is almost 
opposite (lat. 3°-7' S., long. 50°-63'' W. ; map 1, No. 1; map 4). Evidently this 
expansion was not a move to draw away from the Mundurucu invasion, who at 
that time, 1768, were merely mentioned on the Maues River. The expansion of the 
Mura was facilitated by the fact that they found the country only sparcely in- 
habited; the numerous old sedentary tribes had succumbed to the "avenging troops" 
and to tlie mission system. Their weak remnants, lacking any initiative and pride 
against servitude, and concentrated in a few villages, did not have the power to 
resist the attacks of savages conscious of their superiority as warriors. It seems 
that the Autaz region from then on began to be the center of the Mura, and it 
remains so today. That the Mura had been preceded in the Autaz by other tribes 
of higher culture is proved by the archeological remains found there by Tastevin 
(1923 a) and the present author. These include a great number of hardwood 
fishweirs, anthropomorphic urns of the Miracanguera type, jade objects, etc. 

About 1774, the warlike expansion of the Mura had reached its climax, and the 
desperate Neo-Brazilians demanded their extermination as the only means for 
avoiding the complete downfall of Amazonas (Ribeiro de Sampaio, 1825). At 
this time, Ribeiro de Sampaio mentions the Mura in the following places : Silves, 
Madeira River (Borba), Autaz, Uaquiri (?), Manacapuru, Pures River, Cudajaz, 
Mamia, Coary River, Catua, Caiame River, Teffe River, Capuca, Yauato, Fonte 
Boa, Japura River, Amana, Manaus, Jahu River, Uinini River, and Carvoeiro. 
Other authors add Obidos, Moura, Barcellos, Nogueira, Alvaraes, Maripi, Ayrao, 
Poiares, and Abacaxys. The Mura were attacked in these places every year by 
Government forces. These punitive expeditions, in spite of the resulting bloodshed, 
were not effective, and the Mura continued to show their animosity. In 1784, 
however, the Mura unexpectedly made peace with the Whites. In July, five Mura 
appeared peacefully in Santo Antonio de Maripi, on the lower Japura River and 
were followed later by many more. Other Mura presented themselves in Tefife, 
Alvaraes, and Borba. In the latter place, where in 1775 an Army outpost had 
been created for the protection of the residents and travelers against their hostili- 
ties, their number grew in 3 years to more than 1,000. 1786, the Mura of the 
Cudajaz came to terms, and by the end of the same year the whole tribe had made 
peace and started to settle down in permanent villages. 

The reason for their peace overtures was, perhaps, the gradual weakening of 
the tribe by epidemics, by the adoption of foreign elements, and, particularly, by 
the relentless war that the Mundurucu waged against them. The latter, crossing 
from the Madeira River westward, butchered the Mura in Autaz without, however, 
dislodging them permanently from a single one of the many places that they had 
occupied. Even after the pacification, the Mura, according to Martins, spread 
farther out upstream on the Solimoes to beyond the Tabatinga frontier. The 
latest establishments, about which there is some information, were on the Jandiatuba 
River, a little below Sao Paul de Olivenga and in the region of the lower Amazon 
in Mura-tapera, now called Oriximina, on the Trombetas River, some 35 km. (22 
miles) above the mouth. 

In the beginning of the 19th century, relations with the Whites seemed to have 
been generally good ; at least Canon Andre Fernandes de Souza, who mentions 
them at that time, does not speak of recent hostilities. According to him, the 
Mura were the only natives respected by the civilized people. Later, however, the 
Mura resumed their hostilities on the Madeira River. 


During the "Cabanagem," a revolt that evolved into a general uprising of the 
Indian, Negro, and Mestizo servants against their White masters, the rebels won 
the adherence of the Mura w^ho, together with them, robbed, killed, and burned. 
Together with the rebels, they were defeated and massacred, 1834-36. Friction be- 
tween the Mura of the Madeira and the civilized people continued for a long 
time after the revolt. The report by Governor Tenreiro Aranha in 1852 contains 
many complaints against members of this tribe, who committed horrible crimes 
against defenseless people. The governor sent reinforcements to the military out- 
post in Mataura, commissioned a well-armed river patrol, and appropriated the 
amount of 1,308 milreis for mission work. None of these missions (Sao Pedro, 
Crato, Manicore) lasted long. The last acts of hostilities on record on the Madeira 
refer to the killing of a soldier and two slaves of the Crato missionary by the 
Mtitra of the Capana in 1855. Later, the Mura gathered on Ongas Island for the 
purpose of attacking travelers. 

The author of "Illustragao" (Anonymous, ms. a) estimated the number of Mura 
at 60,000 at the time of the pacification. This number is no doubt too high, as 
is 30,000 to 40,000 given by Martius in 1820 (Spix and Martins, 1823-31, vol. 3). 
Estimates based on the report of Albuquerque Lacerda showed that the Mura did 
not exceed 3,000 in 1864. In 1926, the present author counted 1,390 inhabitants 
occupying 26 Mura huts on the Madeira, Autaz, and Urubii Rivers. The total 
number might have been 1,600. 

The Mura never expanded very much on land. Even during the time of their 
greatest extension, they always sought the low floodlands of the shores of the 
Amazon-Solimoes River and its tributaries, and similar lands on the Rio Negro 
and Japura, Solimoes, Madeira, Purus, and Amazon Rivers. They settled only 
where they could move about in canoes, choosing spots where they could build 
their villages, plant their crops, and hunt. Throughout their known history, they 
can be characterized as a canoeing and fishing people. 

The Mura are today so much crossed with Neo-Brazilians that it is impossible 
to determine their original physical type. Truly Negroid types, however, are rare. 
In the area of Yuma Lake, the author found, in 1926, a relatively large percentage 
of individuals of Indian type, characterized by an arched nose and receding chin. 
When the Mura made peace in 1784, they had already absorbed many foreign 
ethnic elements from people who had sought refuge among them or who had been 
captured by them. Large groups of other tribes, such as the Jufmtna and Iruri, were 
with the Mura at that time. The Jumana belonged to the Arawakan family, and 
both the Jumana and Iruri had a more advanced culture than the Mura. We do 
not know the influence of these foreign elements on Mura culture. 


After their pacification, the Mura began to adopt the Lingua Geral, 
but at the time of Martius' trip, this language was little used. In 1850 
they could speak it, but used the Mura language among themselves. 
Later they substituted Portuguese for the Lingua Geral, and now the 
majority of the groups use Portuguese. Some groups still speak the 
Lingua Geral among themselves, but only occasional individuals know 
the Mura language. In many groups it has disappeared completely. 

Martius' contention that most of the words of the Mura language are of 
Tupian origin has remained unsubstantiated. Even the number of ele- 
ments adopted from the Lingua Geral is strangely small. Most noticeable 


are the regular use of the first and second singular, personal pronouns, 
and first person plural of Lingua Geral. 

According to most linguists (Ehrenreich, Chamberlain, Rivet, Lou- 
kotka), the Mura language is isolated. The fact mentioned by the present 
author that the Matanawi language has a scant half-dozen words in com- 
mon with the Mura does not mean that the two languages should be con- 
sidered, as by Rivet (1924, p. 673) and Loukotka (1939, p. 154), as 
members of the same family. Only the following vocabularies have been 
published: Martins (1867, 2:20), Nimuendaju and Valle Bentes (1923), 
and Nimuendaju (1925, 1932 b). 



Farming. — The Mura practiced farming before their pacification, but 
only on a small scale. According to Fonseca Coutinho (1873), they had 
large manioc and maize fields on the Autaz River, Moreover, A. F. de 
Souza (1870) mentions mandioca plantations of the Mura on the Matu- 
piry, a tributary of the Madeira River, at the beginning of the 19th cen- 
tury. The author of "Observaijoes addicionais" (Anonymous, ms. a, pt. 2) 
says that they did not plant anything, but looted the crops of others to 
make a fine manioc flour. This, however, presupposes that they already 
had pans, sieves, and tipiti baskets. This, together with the Jara ceremony 
(see below), suggests that they were acquainted with manioc and its 
preparation. Very likely at war time they found it more convenient to 
steal tubers than to plant them. 

Hunting and fishing. — The gathering of wild fruit was also important 
in their economy, but above all the Mura were fishermen. Their skill 
was admired not only by the civilized people but by their Indian neigh- 
bors, such as the Catazvishi, who were also fishermen. The Mura caught 
turtles under water by hand, and after harpooning pirarucu (Arapaima 
gigas) and manatee, they pursued them between obstacles of aquatic plants 
and fallen trees. The importance of the harpoon here suggests that they 
had been acquainted with this weapon for a long time. In order to bring 
a dead manatee aboard their canoes, they swamped the craft so as to 
push it under the floating animal and then floated it again by emptying it. 

They knew the use of the babracot, but preferred to roast their meat 
buried in the ashes or on a spit. 


The Mura build their houses in small groups of two to five, which some- 
times are scattered far apart along the shore of a lake or river. They 
rarely live in isolated huts. According to Tastevin (1923 a), five or six 
families live in a hut, but the author noted that this occurs only in excep- 


tional cases, each family usually having its own hut. These houses are not 
as poorly made as it has often been stated, and many of them do not differ 
from the huts of the poorer Neo-Brazilians of the region. The area sur- 
rounding the houses is not generally kept clean. 

Judging from a drawing in Martins' Atlas, the original Mura hut seems 
to have been dome-shaped, with the rafters reaching to the ground and 
thatched with vertical palm leaves. 

The anonymous author of "Observaqoes addicionais" (Anon., ms. a, 
pt. 2) states that as a rule their real home is their canoe, and the present 
writer noticed in 1926 that the Mura of the Juma River slept on a platform 
in the canoe. 

It seems probable that formerly the Mura slept on platforms such as 
those described by Father Tastevin (1923) and not in hammocks. 

The early writers report that the Mura hammocks consisted only of 
three cords, a central one to support the weight of the body and lateral 
ones to maintain the equilibrium. This is obviously a satire of their indo- 
lence. Other information is more plausible. Ferreira states that in 1875 
their sleeping hammocks were made of fibers of inner tree bark. Alfred R. 
Wallace (1853) says that they were made of three strips of embira, and 
Martius that they were made of a piece of bark (innerbark) shaped like 
a canoe. Bates (1863, p. 305) describes a Mura hammock as a "rudely 
woven web of ragged strips of the inner bark of the monguba tree" {Bom- 
hax sp.). Later it seems that the Mura imitated the hammocks of neigh- 
boring tribes and of the Neo-Brazilians. Father W. Schmidt (1913) 
mentions a tucum hammock of the Mura in the Museum of Vienna, and 
the author saw two hammocks on the Juma River made of jauary (Astro- 
caryum sp.) fibers. 


Both sexes were completely naked, although one of Cavina's water 
colors (Ferreira, n. d., pi. 3^) shows an apron of twisted embira or burity 
fibers which is suspended from a belt and the upper part of which appears 
braided ; the upper border is ornamented with a band of white zigzags 
over a red background. The ears and septum were pierced and pieces 
of cane passed through the holes. The upper lip was perforatd above 
the corners of the mouth, while the lower lip was perforated in the center. 
In these holes the Mura inserted animal teeth or wooden pegs. Accord- 
ing to Ferreira, the lip ornaments are of stone found in pirarucu brains ; 
in the paintings, they are small, whitish, and somewhat three-lobed. 
They wore their hair trimmed along the forehead at the level of the eye- 
brows and long behind. It was usually disheveled. 

They painted themselves with urucu and with a black pigment. Some- 
time they smeared themselves with mud as a protection against insects. 

^ Ferreira, who was a member of the first expedition to encounter the Mura, described this plate 
as follows: "Um dos gentios Muras que pelo meiado do mez de Novembro do anno proximo passado 
de 1786 aportaram no logar de Ayrao." 



Mura canoes were formerly made of tree bark and were 6.6 m. (about 
22 ft.) long, 1.1 m. (3.25 ft.) wide, and 44 cm. (17 in.) deep. The ends 
were tied up with creepers. These craft carried four or five people. The 
original type of paddle is unknown. When not in use, the canoes were 
kept submerged so as to be hidden from any enemy and so that they 
would not dry up and crack. The fire-hollowed dugout, at first stolen 
from the Neo-Brazilians and later made by themselves, finally replaced 
bark canoes. 


Mats and basketry. — The Mura used large mats on their beds and in 
their canoes, and smaller ones to sit on. Carrying baskets were made of 
two interwoven palm leaves. 

Pottery and gourds. — According to Martius, the Mura had pottery, 
but he does not say if they made it. The present writer has never seen 
any ware made by them. He did, however, see gourds which had been 
dyed black on the inside and crudely carved on the outside. 

Weapons. — The only weapon was the bow and arrow. The bow 
measured 2.7 m. (9 feet) according to Joao Daniel (1841, p. 168) and 
2 m. (6 feet) according to Southey (1862, 6:248-249). The back is 
strongly convex, the belly only moderately so. W. Schmidt (1913) de- 
scribes the feathering as radial and cemented. Fishing arrows lacked 
feathering. War arrows were formerly tipped with lanceolate bamboo 
heads 33 cm. (13 in.) long and 10 cm. (4 in.) wide, with two large 
barbs on each side. Now they have iron heads. The author found arrows 
made of a single piece of paxiuba on Lake Sampaio. An arrow figured 
by Therese von Bayern (1897, pi. 2, fig. 4) has arched feathering and 
is tipped with a rod notched along the side. The Mura in Covina's 
picture is armed with two arrows, each with a broad wooden point that 
has four or five pairs of barbs, and, protruding beyond this point, another 
lanceolate point of bamboo. 


When the Mura made peace in 1786, they were divided into many 
groups, each numbering 45 to 150 persons and having its own chief. The 
26 groups visited and counted by the author in 1926 averaged 53 persons 
and ranged from 15 to 120. Chieftainship was formerly hereditary, but 
carried little authority. According to the author of "Illustragao," (Anon- 
ymous, ms. a) the Mura rendered to the chief "respect and obedience 
as to a father." A tuft of yellow and black feathers tied to the forehead 
might have been a distinctive chief's ornament (Martius, 1867). Aftei 
the pacification, the principal chief of the Mura lived at Amatary, on the 


left bank of the Amazon, somewhat above the mouth of the Madeira 

Each family head had his private fishing ground which he would defend 
against any poacher. In quarrels over fishing groups, disputants fought 
each other with the clubs, which a Mura always carried in his canoe to 
stun the fish after they are caught. 


Pregnancy and childbirth. — During a woman's pregnancy there are 
no restrictions on her husband. Formerly, during childbirth, the woman 
would sit on a "log of a certain wood burned all over its surface as char- 
coal." Such logs were carried in the canoe, so that a trip might not be 
interrupted by childbirth ("Observagoes addicionais," Anonymous, 
ms. a, pt. 2) . After childbirth, the father stays at home. He fasts for 5 days 
and the mother for a longer period. The size of the fish which the 
father may eat increases as the baby grows. Until the child can walk, 
the father may not hunt and eat his kill lest during his absence the boto 
{Sotalia brasiliensis) and the jaguar come invisibly and take revenge 
by killing the child. The author learned that if the father were to hunt 
a caiman, boto, otter, or anhima (Anhima cornuta) before the child 
could walk, these animals would steal the child's shadow. Herndon and 
Gibbons (1853-54, vol. 1.) mention cases of infanticide, but the present 
writer was impressed by the kind treatment of children. 

Puberty. — From the beginning of the first menstruation until the end 
of the second menstruation, the girl is confined in a corner of the hut 
where she lies in her hammock. 

The passage from childhood to adulthood was marked by a ceremony 
in which boys were permitted for the first time to take parica snuff. 
(See p. 263.) The boy was also flagellated (p. 264). 

Marriage. — The aboriginal Mura had only one wife "whom they loved 
with tenderness and guarded with savage jealousy" ("Observagoes ad- 
dicionais". Anonymous, ms. a, pt. 2; see also Spix and Martius, 1823- 
31, vol. 3). It seems that the Mura later became polygynous. Spix and 
Martius (1823-31, vol. 3) and Wallace (1889) stated that every man had 
two or three wives, who were kept in abject servitude. They were acquired 
as prizes in boxing matches between the girl's suitors, which were fought 
as soon as she had reached puberty. In earlier times, murder of wife 
stealers was sanctioned ; later, such offenders were less severely punished. 

Present-day Mura still feel honered if a person whom they esteem 
courts an unmarried daughter, and they allow the girls of the tribe a great 
deal of liberty. Today a request for marriage is made by the young man 
to the girl's parents, who sometimes demand of him some service. The 
marriage is concluded without any formality and, according to Tastevin, 
is easily dissolved. Marital fidelity is not strictly observed. 


Funeral rites. — Formerly, a person was buried with all his possessions 
wherever he happened to die. At the beginning of the present century, 
the Miira of Murutinga (Autaz) still erected a small hut over the tomb, 
even in Christian cemeteries, and placed food, drink, and the weapons 
of the deceased on the grave. The mangoes which grew in the cemetery 
were reserved for the dead. 


For half a century the Mnra waged unceasing war against the civilized 
Indians and the Neo-Brazilians. According to Martins, they declared 
war against occasional enemies by planting arrows, head upward, in the 
ground in the territory of the rival tribe. Attacks were made silently. 
They ambushed canoes near rapids where travelers were forced to draw- 
near the shore, watching the approach of their victims from the tops of 
sumauma trees {Ceiha pentandra). They also ambushed enemies on the 
paths leading to the plantations. In the onslaught, they did not pay any 
attention to age or sex. They mutilated the bodies, but did not bring 
home any trophies, and they have never been seriously accused of can- 
nibalism. According to Ribeiro de Sampaio (1825), they took prisoners 
to enslave them, but it is more likely that they incorporated them in the 
tribe. At the time of the pacification, the most important Mura chief 
was a civilized Indian, who had been captured as a child and reared by 
Whites. His mother, also a captive, acted as an interpreter during the 
peace negotiations. 

By the end of the 18th century, the Mura's most feared enemies were 
the Mundurucu, who had come from the region of the Tapajoz River, 
sailed down the Canuma and Abacaxys Rivers, and established them- 
selves on the Madeira River at Tobocal near the mouth of the Aripuana 
River. It is probable that the Mura's defeat by the Mundurucu con- 
tributed greatly to their pacification. According to Martins, the Mura 
feared the Mundurucu so much that they did not even resist when the 
latter came for their women. 


Musical instruments. — The Mura used a kind of clarinet, commonly 
called tore, made of a thick bamboo, and a five-hole bamboo flute. The 
latter was used for transmitting messages about a great variety of mat- 
ters (Marcoy, 1866, and Anonymous, ms. a). 

Dances and songs. — The dance witnessed by Martius was an imitation 
of the Neo-Brazilian dance, and the songs which accompanied it were 
in the Lingua Geral. The dances in vogue in Tastevin's time (1923 a) 
are identical to those of the Mura's civilized neighbors. Southey (1862, 
6:348), however, speaks of an original dance in which the Indians were 


arranged in two lines. Those of one line were armed with bows and 
arrows; the Indians of the other line were painted, and blew on long 
bamboo flutes. A man led the dance with grotesque gestures. In 1926, 
the Mura of the Juma River performed a nocturnal circle dance accom- 
panied by the tore clarinet, and by songs about the sloth {Brady pus sp.) 
After the dance, the men gathered on one side of the ring and women 
on the other to bleed each other with sharp pirarucu and tambaqui fish- 

Narcotics. — Parica, made from the roasted seeds of the parica tree 
{Mimosa acacioides), is the most powerful narcotic used by the Mura. 
It was taken either as a snuff or as an enema. As a snuff, it was blown 
into the nostrils by means of a tube 1 foot (31 cm.) long made of tapir 
bone or a bird's leg bone. The powder was kept in a large bamboo tube 
and the doses measured out with an caiman tooth. It caused a general 
state of excitement and exaltation with auditory hallucinations, and a 
condition of feverish activity which ended with prostration or uncon- 
sciousness. According to Martins, individuals who were over-excited by 
the narcotic and suffocated died on the spot. "Observaqoes addicionais" 
states that on the morning following a narcotic spree, the bodies of per- 
sons were often found shot with arrows or stabbed with knives. These 
murders were not considered as crimes and were blamed on the parica. 

Parica taken as an enema by means of a rubber syringe had a similar 
but weaker effect. The participants in groups of ten sat in circles while 
old women held a vase containing the liquid and passed the syringe from 
hand to hand. To increase the effect, the enema was accompanied by 
singing, "He! He!" (Marcoy, 1866). The drunken men danced and 
threatened each other with weapons, which the women always tried to 
remove from the parica house. Present-day Mura still snuff parica but 
take less of it than before. A bamboo tube is used for the purpose 
(Nunes Pereira, personal communication). 

The ancient Mura prepared manioc chicha. Today they have acquired 
two dangerous vices which have contributed to their moral and physical 
degradation: rum, from the White; and liamj)a (hashish), from the 
Negroes (Tastevin, 1923 a, p. 517). A large part of the payment which 
they receive for their services is rum and liamba, in exchange for which 
they are willing to surrender to the Neo-Brazilians their last bit of food. 
Then they spend day after day in a state of torpor, unable to work. 


Little is known about Mura religion with the exception of a few cere- 
monies and magico-religious practices. Today the tribe is Christian, but 
its adherence to the Church lies only in the knowledge of a few saints, the 
ceremony of baptism, and the celebration of some feasts. 


The Parica feast. — Martius denies that parica was taken at puberty 
initiations and links it instead to the ripening of the parica seeds. Marcoy 
(1866) says that anyone who had parica would invite others to the parica 
house, an open shelter built for the purpose and forbidden to women. 
The great parica feast was preceded by a hunt which lasted one week. 
The feast began with flagellation, after which came libations of a non- 
alcoholic beverage made with the fruit of the acahy palm. Then parica 
was taken, first in the form of snuff and afterward as an enema. The 
feast ended with a dance which lasted 24 hours. Marcoy's description of 
the feast contains obvious inaccuracies. 

Martius gives second-hand information about this ceremony. The feast 
was celebrated every year and lasted for 8 days. It began with the 
drinking of cauim and other intoxicants. Then pairs of men flagellated 
each other with a long leather thong of tapir and manatee hide. This 
continued for several days. Afterward the partners kneeled in front of 
each other and blew parica powder into each other's nostrils by means 
of a tapir bone tube. ( See Martius, 1867, fig. 63. ) 

Punishment rites. — The flagellation rite was also practiced during the 
full moon, its purpose being to increase one's strength. One man would 
hold the victim with his arms outstretched while the old man who per- 
formed the flagellations in the puberty ceremonies would whip him with 
a few lashings on the arms and legs. 

After burning the brush for planting, the Mura performed a flagellation 
ceremony in order to increase the output of manioc. They brought in a 
pile of whips made of jara palm (Leopoldina pulchra), and the men 
surrounded the houses, seizing all the grown children, whose parents could 
not interfere. Each was held by two men, and forced to lean forward. 
A very old man sang, danced, and finally whipped the children's backs with 
the jara whips. 

In order to make young boys successful in fishing, the Mura take them 
to a tucandeira ant's nest and force them to expose a hand to the sting of 
the ants. 

Shamanism. — In Wallace's time, 1850, Mura shamans were highly 
regarded as men of great ability. They were feared and their services were 
always well paid. The shamans observed by Tastevin and the present 
author are faithful counterparts of the Neo-Brazilian shamans of that 
region, and have no aboriginal features. 

Ornaments and preparations with magic power have been reported 
among the Juma River Mura. A caraiperana (Rosaceae) seed necklace 
offers protection against grippe and headaches. A necklace made of 
"tears of Our Lady" wards off eye disease. Painting the face with urucu 
protects against chickenpox. Juparana leaves were used against malaria. 
According to Spix and Martius ( 1823-31, vol. 3) , the Mura used a monkey 
penis as a charm against fever. 



Some fragments of Mura cosmogony have been collected by Father 
Tastevin (1923 a) and the author. Heaven is a world, somewhat like the 
earth, where souls live and die and where the fearsome thunder resides. 
There is also a nether world, which is an aquatic region. The moon is 
female during 14 days, when women have greater vigor, and male during 
a like period, when men are especially strong. 

The waters of the earth are connected to those of heaven ; when there 
is a flood on the earth, the waters ebb in heaven, and vice versa. 

The coal sack near the Southern Cross is a manatee carrying on its 
back a fisherman (Alpha and Beta Crucis of the Southern Cross), whose 
canoe was upset by the fish, while his companion (Alpha and Beta of 
Centaurus) is getting ready to throw the harpoon. The lightest part of 
the Milky Way is foam worked up by the manatee in the water. 

The origin of the rainbow is explained as follows : A woman carried in 
her womb two snakes that would climb trees, bring her fruits, and return 
into her. Her husband killed them, and they went up to the sky, where 
they became the upper and lower rainbows. The rainbow is also con- 
ceived as the mouth of a large snake through which souls enter heaven. 
So as to obtain free passage, a coin is placed in the mouth of the deceased. 
If the latter is very poor, a fig is used instead. The master of the rainbow 
snake is called kaai tuhui. 

The following are some Mura myths : 

The flood. — Men escaped the rising flood in canoes and found a high 
rock, where they gathered, subsisting on the animals which also had taken 
refuge there. After the deluge had passed, they could not find their way 
home until a shaman took them there. 

The great fire. — There was once a world conflagration, from which 
only one family escaped. The man had dug a deep cave, provided it with 
30 pitchers of water, and erected a house of wood and straw inside it. 
He closed the entrance with stone. The fire passed above the cave, and 
it was intensely hot in the pit. Two weeks later, the stone was still hot, 
and the family did not emerge until the stone was cool enough to move. 
The earth was deserted and had no water or plants. The man built a hut, 
but he worried because only 10 pitchers of water remained. Then the 
Holy Ghost came with drums and flags, and the Indian obtained water 
from him. He got fish from Saint Anthony, palm trees from Saint John, 
and manioc from Saint Peter. The last ordered him to lie down on his 
back and when he turned around he saw that the manioc had already 
grown a foot. On the left bank of the Amazon near Manaos the dry and 
stunned vegetation bears witness to the great fire. 

The prisoners of the pigs. — A newly married man went pig hunting. 
When he killed a sow, the aroused animals forced him to climb a tree. 
They dug up the roots of the tree, and when it fell they carried him away. 


The pig's mother, a small red animal, kept him with her. When they went 
past uixu, burity, and biriba trees they asked him whether he ate these 
fruits, and he answered that he did. The pigs then assumed a human 
shape. He had to sleep among them. When he arose, they did the same 
and grunted and sniffed. After 2 months, he managed to escape by 
climbing a tree and jumping from branch to branch. He carried away 
the pig's flute. After he had returned home, he invited his wife, his 
brother, and brother-in-law to hunt pigs. While they remained in the 
canoe, he blew twice on his flute. Soon a large herd of pigs came running 
toward him, and he killed as many as he wanted. His other brother 
returned from a trip and inquired how he obtained so many pigs. Then 
the brother took the flute and, saying that the other was a fool for having 
allowed the pigs to take him prisoner, he went ashore, blowing the flute. 
The pigs killed him and took the flute back. 


The Pirahd (Pirianaus, Piaarhaus, Piraheus, Piriahai, Piriaha, Piriaha, 
Pinyaha, Iviridyarohu, "lords of fiber rope," i.e., armbands, Ivirapa-poku, 
"long bow," and Tapii, "strangers") is a subtribe of the Mura, which 
speaks a distinct dialect. It has evidently always occupied its present 
habitat between lat. 6°25' and 7° 10' S., along the lower Maicy River and 
at Estirao Grande do Marmellos, below this river's mouth. 

The Pirahd have remained the least acculturated Mura tribe, but they 
are known only through a short word list and unpublished notes obtained 
by the author during several brief contacts in 1922, when efforts were 
being made to pacify the Parintintin. 

The dialects of the Pirahd and Mura of Manicore are mutually intel- 
ligible, and differences in these dialects appearing in the author's vocabu- 
lary may be partly attributable to informant difficulties. In a few instances, 
the Mura "r" becomes "g" in the Pirahd dialect. 

The Pirahd are mentioned by Ferreira Penna (1853) in 1853, by 
Orton (1875, p. 470) in 1873, and by Barboza Rodrigues (1892 b) in 
1885, the last describing them as the fiercest of all the Mura. 

In 1923, they numbered around 90. In 1921, the "Servigo de Protegcao 
aos Indios" established a center to give them aid but, apparently content 
with their present state, these Indians have shown little inclination to 
acquire European culture. Except for a few implements, they show 
almost no sign of any permanent contact with civilized people. They 
showed no interest in the utensils and clothing given them by the Serviqo 
de Protecqao aos Indios. Neither did they steal. In fact, no two tribes 
offer a more striking contrast than the Pirahd and their neighbors, the 


Parintintin. The latter were active, clever, greedy for new things, ambi- 
tious, and thieving. 

In general, the author found the Pirahd dull and unresponsive. Their 
sullenness made field research among them difficult. Their indifference 
and aloofness is probably more apparent than real, and seems to stem from 
their deep resentment at seeing their old enemies, the Parintintin, being 
favored by the governmental authorities, whereas they, who had never 
been hostile to the Neo-Brazilians, were treated with much less regard. 

The vocabulary collected among them never exceeded 71 words. The 
Pirahd appeared to be completely indifferent as linguistic informants. In 
spite of several decades of contact with Neo-Brazilians, their knowledge of 
Portuguese and of the Lingua Geral never exceeded a dozen words. 


Barboza Rodrigues (1892 b) divides the Mura into Pirahens (Pirahd), 
Burahens, and the Jahaahens (Yahahi), giving for the location of the last 
the Solimoes River. The Tord and Maranawi, who inhabit the lower 
Marmellos, call the Yahahi a subtribe of the Mura, which they say used 
to live on the Branco River, a tributary of the right bank of the upper 
Marmellos. The last survivors of the Yahahi joined the Pirahd. 



The Pirahd grew maize, sweet manioc (macaxera), a kind of yellow 
squash (jurumum), watermelon, and cotton. They were also excellent 
hunters and fishermen. The only aboriginal fishing technique observed 
among them was shooting fish with an arrow ; however, the)'^ used fish- 
hooks obtained from civilized people. They ate Brazil nuts and wild fruit, 
and they liked honey mixed with water. They did not drink rum. 


The dwellings of the Pirahd were rudimentary and badly constructed. 
Some were merely a poorly thatched roof covering a rude platform which 
served as a floor. As the huts were built on the beach slopes, the downhill 
ends of the flooring poles rested on a horizontal pole supported on two 
forked posts, while the uphill ends were stuck in the sand of the slope. 
On this platform were strewn one or more straw mats. The palm leaves 
of the roof were thrown at random over a still lighter framework, resting 
on four small forks about 5 to 6J/^ feet (Ij^ to 2 m.) above the first. The 
rain beat in everywhere as there were no walls. Similar, but larger, huts 
were sometimes placed side by side in twos or threes. In the summer, 



one saw huts in little groups on the beaches of the Maicy River; in the 
winter, the Indians lived on land not subject to floods. On one small 
inland farm, a better constructed, open, gable-roof hut was noted. 


The men wore a belt of raw fibers with fringe down the front, cover- 
ing and holding the penis up against the abdomen. The women, at least 
in the camps, were nude. The women's ears and the lower lips of some 
of the men were pierced. The young women, from puberty until mar- 
riage, wore two fiber strings, sometimes braided, across the shoulders. 
Over the biceps the men wore fiber bands with long fringe. The women 
had necklaces of seeds and animal teeth. Though they had rustic wooden 
combs, their hair was always more or less unkempt. They did not re- 
move the body hairs. In spite of their river habitat, the Pirahd, especially 
the children, were very dirty and untidy. Use of urucii and genipa body 
paint was rare. 


Miscellaneous. — The Pirahd made pouches with handles, baskets of 
babassu straw, gourds for holding water, gourds with painted black in- 
teriors, and spoons made of monkey skulls. They made two types of 
straw fans, one rectangular and the other in the shape of a fish. There 
was no pottery. The Indians usually slept on a platform, but sometimes, 
to escape the mosquitoes, they lay in their canoes, tying them to a branch 
on the bank. Very rarely, one saw a netlike fiber hammock, in which 
they rested during the day. 

Weapons. — The only Pirahd weapon was the bow and arrow; it was 
powerful but less carefully made than those of the Parintintin. The ar- 
rows had radial feathering, tied at intervals. A jawbone with tusks was 
used to smooth the bow and the wooden arrow shaft. On the edge of 
the bamboo arrow point a cutia's tooth was set in a handle. 


The Parintintin and the Pirahd were constantly at odds. In both tribes 
there were a number of Indians who bore scars of wounds from this 
fighting. Their hostile encounters usually took place in the summer when 
the Pirahd went up the Maicy River, sometimes as far as the Maicy Fork, 
looking for tracaja (turtle, Podocnemis) eggs in Parintintin country. 
Likewise, the Parintintin attacked the Pirahd in their camps on the lower 
Maicy River almost every year. Unlike their enemies, the Pirahd were 
not cannibals and did not take trophies from the bodies of the slain 
enemies. They did, sometimes, take prisoners. Thus in 1916 or 1917 
they captured a Parintintin woman and child and sold them to the civil- 
ized people of the lower Marmellos River. Long ago the Pirahd seem 


also to have had some bloody battles with the Matanawi, but to all ap- 
pearances they managed to get along peaceably with the Tord. 


No musical instruments were seen among the Pirahd. A group of 
Pirahd who were camped near the Brazilian Government Center held a 
dance from the rising to the setting of the full moon. Holding hands 
and singing in unison, men and women formed a circle and danced in 
an open space. Starting slowly, they accelerated until they were running. 
This was repeated all night long. One of the men wore around his head 
a cord with short feathers of many colors; others had yellow grains of 
mumbaca palm trees (Astrocaryum miimhaca) hanging over their ears 
as ornaments. At a certain time, all were served a warm gruel of the 
jurumiim (squash) in a large gourd, made by roasting the plant in ashes 
and crushing it with the hands in water. 


Albuquerque Lacerda, 1864; Anonymous, ms. a; Barboza Rodrigues, 1892 b; 
Bates, 1863 ; Daniel, 1841 ; Fernandes de Souza, 1870 ; Ferreira, ms. ; Ferreira Penna, 
1853; Fonseca, 1880-81; Fonesca Coutinho, 1873; Herndon and Gibbons, 1853-54; 
Leite, 1943; Loukotka, 1939; Marcoy, 1866; Martins, 1863, 1867; Monteiro Noronha, 
1862; Moraes, 1860; Nimuendaju, 1924, 1925, 1932 b; Nimuendajii and Valle Bentes, 
1923; Nunes Pereira, 1939; Orton, 1875; Ribeiro de Sampaio, 1825; Rivet, 1924; 
Schmidt, W., 1913; Southey, 1862; Sousa, A., 1870; Spix and Martius, 1823-31, and 
Atlas; Tastevin, 1923 a; Therese von Bayern, 1897; Wallace, 1853, 1889. 


By Donald Horton 


The Mundurucu are a TM^f-speaking people in the southwestern por- 
tion of the State of Para and the southeastern corner of the State of 
Amazonas, Brazil (map 1, No. 1; map 4; lat. 5°-8° S., long. S6°-60° 
W.). When first encountered by Europeans in the late 18th century, 
the Mundurucu were a warlike people, aggressively expanding their 
territory along the Tapajoz River and adjacent areas. Their expansion 
reached its limits at the beginning of the 19th century, when they were 
defeated by the Neo-Brazilians. Since then their territory has dwindled ; 
remnant settlements are located on the Canuma and several of its tributar- 
ies (Abacaxis, Paracury, Apucitaua), in the municipios of Maues, Par- 
intins, and Juriti, and on the Cururu River (a southeastern tributary of 
the Tapajoz). The principal settlements are located along the middle 
Tapajoz River and especially on its southeastern tributary, the Rio de 
Tropas (between lat. 6° and 7° S., and long. 56° and 57° W.), Commu- 
nities formerly established on the lower Tapajoz between the Rio de 
Tropas and the Amazon have been absorbed or wiped out by Neo-Brazilian 

Kruse (1934) distinguishes four regional groups of the Mundurucu: 
The Tapajoz River group, living on both sides of the Tapajoz jjetween 
the Rio de Tropas and the Cururu River ; the Madeira River Mundurucu, 
on the Secudury, a tributary of the Canuma; the Xingii River Mun- 
durucu, known also as the Curuaya, on the uppermost left tributary of the 
Igarape de Flecha, itself an eastern tributary of the middle Rio Curua do 
Iriri; and the Juruena River Mundurucu, known also as the Njamhik- 
waras. Nimuendaju (personal communication) regards the name "Ma- 
deira Mundurucu" as unsuitable, since the rivers on which this group is 
located do not flow into the Madeira; he also believes that the Curuaya, 

* The writer is indebted to Dr. Curt Nimuendaju, who through personal knowledge of the 
Mundurucu and familiarity with literary sources not available to the writer, was able to provide 
additional information on the distribution and history of the tribe which has been utilized in the 
present account. 

Where the literature clearly indicates that a custom is no longer practiced, the past tense is 
employed; otherwise the account is given in the present tense even though it is probable that much 
of the culture so described no longer persists. 



though related linguistically to the Mundurucu, are to be regarded as an 
independent tribe (this volume, p, 221), and that the Njamhikwara (see 
Namhicuara, p. 361) are not properly classified as Mundurucu on any 

Martius (1867) reported a group related to the Mundurucu, known as 
the Guajajara, who were settled on the Gurupi River near Cerzedello in 
1818. The writer has found no further reference to this name in the 
literature dealing with the Mundurucu. (The Guajajara-Tembe are a 
tribe near the east coast of Brazil, page 137.) 

According to native tradition, the Wiaunyen, at the headwaters of the 
Mutum River, should be classed as a subtribe of the Mundurucu. 

The Mundurucu refer to themselves as Weidyenye (our own, our peo- 
ple) (Kruse, 1934). Mundurucu (Munduruku, Mundurucu, Mondu- 
rucu, Mundrucu, Moturicu, etc.) is the name applied to them by the 
Parintintin, in whose language it denotes a species of ant (Stromer, 1932). 
A nickname widely used by Neo-Brazilians is Paiquize (Paikyce) (Mar- 
tius, 1867) or Paikise, meaning "father knife" or "head-cutter." They 
are sometimes called Caras Pretas ("black face"), in reference to their 
facial tattooing. (See Kruse (1934), who gives an extensive list of names 
used by other tribes to designate the Mundurucu.) 


In 1887, Martius estimated the Mundurucu at 18,000 to 40,000, but 
Stromer believes that, on the basis of known settlement sites, a maximum 
population of 10,000 at the period of Contact is indicated. Tocantins 
(1877) listed 21 villages with populations ranging from 100 to 2,600 
and a total population of 18,910. According to Campana, there were 
at the turn of the century about 1,400 individuals in 37 communities 
in the Tapajoz area. The largest villaG^e had 700 inhabitants, and the 
smallest less than a dozen. Stromer (1932) found 19 settlements with a 
total of 1,200 to 1,400 inhabitants in 1931, and fewer still in 1937. Both 
Campana's and Stromer's figures refer only to the population of the 
main area of concentration. Kruse gives a population of 950 for the 
Tapajoz group and 800 for the Canuma group. 


The first reference to the Mundurucu was published in 1768 when Monteiro 
Noronha" listed the "Maturucuf' among the tribes on the Mauees River. In 1769, 
according to Manoel Baena (1885), the Mundurucu began to move northward along 
the Tapajoz River, forcing out or extenninating the Jaguain (Javaim, Hy-au-ahim) , 
a warlike, cannibalistic tribe then occupying the middle Tapajoz. A "Mondruci" 
settlement a day's journey below the mouth of the Arinos was reported by Almeida 
Serra in 1779. The Mundurucu reached and made unsuccessful attacks upon 

a The writer has not seen all of the sources mentioned in this sketch of Mundurucu history; 
the material here summarized has been in part provided by Dr. Nimuendaju (personal communi- 


Santarem and Gurupa in 1780 and again in 1784. They attacked the Mura in the 
Madeira River region and a few years later dispersed their southern neighbors, the 
Parintintin (Cawahiwa). Their next expedition, involving an army of some 2,000 
warriors, is said to have crossed the Xingu and Tocantins Rivers and to have 
reached the western limits of Maranhao Province. The expedition is said to have 
been defeated and turned back by the Apinaye (see Stromer, 1937), but according 
to Nimuendaju, it may be doubted that the Mimdurucu actually went so far east. A 
Neo-Brazilian punitive force fought a 3-day battle with them on the Rio de Tropas 
(ca. 1794). Peace was established in 1795 or 1796. 

Except for minor conflicts with neighboring tribes, the Mundurucu abandoned 
warfare and gradually relinquished the great territory they had seized. Missions 
were established on the Tapajoz in 1799 and on the Madeira in 1811. By 1885, the 
Mundtirucu still living on the Madeira River had been sufficiently acculturated to be 
described as "civilized" (Hartt, 1885). A few of the villages of the Tapajoz 
region are said to preserve as much of the old culture as can survive without mihtary 
organization, warfare, and head hunting (Stromer, 1932). 

The site of the tribe prior to its northward drive along the Tapajoz is not 
definitely known. Kruse (1934) believes that they lived adjacent to the Apiacd in 
Mato Grosso; Martius (1867) thought that language and customs pointed to an 
origin still further south. It is Nimuendaju's opinion (personal communication), 
however, that the Mundurucu were originally located on the Rio de Tropas, where 
their principal settlements are found today and where the punitive expedition of 
1794 found their chief military strength. Mundurucu legend attributes their origin to 
the town of Necodemus in this area. 



The Mundurucu subsist partly on horticulture and partly on hunting, 
fishing, and gathering. Tocantins' (1877) list of plants cultivated by them 
includes two species of manioc, svi^eet potato, pineapple, sugarcane, various 
peppers and beans, and several species of bananas. Other authors mention 
cotton, tobacco, and genipa. Tocantins names some 30 noncultivated 
plants utilized in Mundurucu economy. Martius (1867) says that this 
tribe formerly gathered wild rice along the Madeira and Iraria Rivers. 
They eat ants, larvae, and honey. 

Some of the Mundurucu now have cattle. Though they do not use these 
as food, they will eat the meat of domestic animals if it is offered them. 

In the aboriginal culture, wild fowl were kept in cages to provide 
plumage for the f eatherwork described below. 

The Mundurucu are said to show great affection for their dogs. Women 
suckle puppies ; when a dog dies it is given the same form of burial as a 
human being. 

There are no published descriptions of Mundurucu hunting techniques, 
but accounts of hunting rituals indicate that tapirs, peccaries, hares, deer, 
and agoutis are hunted. One ritual simulates the use of a runway of stakes 
to trap peccaries. Intensive hunting occurs during the summer, when 
many families occupy temporary huts in the brush. 


Barbed arrows are used more commonly than hook and line in fishing. 
Stromer's vocabulary ( 1932) includes references to basket traps and weirs. 
Fish and crocodiles are drugged with poison from twigs and leaves of 
the timbo. 

Food preparation. — Cooking is women's work. Dishes mentioned in 
the literature include roasted sweet potato, banana mush, manioc broth, 
cara fruit soup, and a dish consisting of Brazil nuts which have been 
washed, soaked in water, smoked, crushed, and roasted. Meat is roasted 
on a babracot of green sticks or on a slanting spit. Stromer's vocabulary 
includes a word for manioc press and a phrase meaning "roasting house 
for manioc meal." Mortar and pestle are reported. Beverages are made 
from wild beans, cacao, and manioc meal mixed with honey and water. 
The Mundurucu had no native alcoholic beverages. 

They raise tobacco and smoke it in the form of cigars wrapped in 
tauari bark. 


Tocantins and Farabee imply that the dwellings are arranged around 
Lne periphery of an open village plaza in the center of which is the men's 
house. Bates, however, mentions a settlement of 30 houses scattered for 
a distance of 6 or 7 miles along a river bank; and Martins (Spix and 
Martins, 1823-31, vol. 3) speaks of houses arranged in rows in a forest 

The men's house (ekga) occupied by the warriors, is a prominent feature 
of the village. Tocantins describes one 100 m. (325 feet) long, covered 
with thatch and open on one of its long sides. A photograph of a men's 
house in Farabee (1917 a) shows a rectangular structure, smaller and more 
crudely built than the dwelling house, with a gable roof and incompletely 
enclosed sides. The warriors slung their hammocks from posts inside it 
during the winter and from a series of posts set in three parallel rows and 
united by cross beams, in the village plaza, during the summer. Although 
warfare is no longer an important aspect of Munduntcn life, the men's 
house still serves as a men's work place and as a dwelling for the unmarried 
men. Women are not permitted to enter it. 

The dwelling house (ekqa, "big house") photographed by Farabee is a 
long, rectangular, windowless structure with a high thatched roof and low 
walls. The men's door is in the center of the long side facing the men's 
house; the women's door is directly opposite. Stromer describes the 
house as a long, rectangular building with a roof sloping to the ends and 
sides, and with rising peaks at each end of the roof crest, but in a later 
publication (1937) he speaks of the house as "dome-shaped." In the 
1850's, Bates found that most of the dwellings had conical roofs and walls 
of framework filled with mud. The roof was covered with palm thatch, 
and the eaves extended halfway to the ground. Martins also reported 
conical roofs. 


Within the house each family has its own partitioned quarters and a fire- 
place or stone manioc oven (Tocantins, 1877). How many families 
usually occupy a single house has not been reported. 


The only item of Mundurucil clothing mentioned in the literature is the 
three-cornered penis cover suspended from a cotton cord, but there are 
several descriptions of the ceremonial feather garments for which this 
tribe is famous. Many authors consider the Mundurucu to have been the 
most expert featherworkers in South America within the historic period. 

Featherwork. — Featherwork includes aprons, capes (attached to head- 
dresses), caps, diadems, belts, girdles, bandoliers, arm bands, and leg 
bands. The feathers used in this craft were at least in part obtained from 
birds kept in captivity ; red, blue, green, and yellow feathers were carefully 
sorted by color and size and stored in baskets or in palm-stem cylinders. 
Martius was told that the Mundurucu were able to cause their parrots to 
grow yellow plumes by plucking their feathers and rubbing frogs' blood 
into the wounds.^ The feathers arc attached to a net fabric. Tail feathers, 
an-anged in parallel rows, are used in capes and pendants ; rosettes of small 
feathers, bound at the quills, are attached to the base net to cover the 
attachments of long feathers; imbricated breast feathers may be used to 
cover the surface of a fabric or to sheathe a cord. Decorative effects are 
produced by simple alternation of colors. 

A characteristic feathered staff is described as a stem of cane or wood 
about 3 feet ( 1 m. ) long and 2 or 3 inches in diameter. The shaft is either 
covered with long feathers laid flat against it or sheathed with fine breast 
feathers. At the upper end a dense band of rosettes forms a projecting 
collar; a free cluster of long plumes may project from the head of the 
staff. The feathers are attached with wax and cotton thread. These ob- 
jects are highly valued and when not in use are carefully stored m cylin- 
drical containers. Their significance has not been reported; Martius 
merely says that when he approached a Mundurucu village, stafT-bearers 
came to meet him. 

Tattooing and painting*. — The Mundurucu tattooing designs consist 
of fine, widely-spaced parallel lines applied vertically on limbs and torso; 
bands of lozenges across the upper part of the chest; occasional parallel 
horizontal lines, and cross-hatchings. Around each eye is tattooed a single- 
line ellipse ; curved lines are drawn around the mouth. Lines converging 
toward the ears across the cheeks give the appearance of wings spread 
across the face. (For illustrations of Mundurucu tattooing, see the 
sketches by Hercules Florence (Steinen, 1899).) 

' Nordenskiold (1924 b, p. 207) says of this custom, which has been reported from other South 
American tribes, that the color change actually occurs, but zoologists attribute the change to dietary 


Hartt and Martius both mention tattooing combs of palm thorns, but 
Tocantins states that the operation is performed with an agouti tooth. The 
skin is slashed and genipa juice is rubbed into the wound. Genipa is also 
used as a paint to color areas enclosed by tattooed lines. Both sexes are 
tattooed but there are slight differences in design for each. The operation 
begins when the subject is about 8 years old and proceeds gradually over 
a period of years. It is seldom completed before the subject has reached 
the age of 20. 

Hairdress. — The aboriginal hair style was the same for both sexes. 
The hair was cut just above the ears and at the nape of the neck. The 
crown of the head was shaved but a short, circular tuft was left above the 
center of the forehead. 


Baskets, ropes, and netting. — Baskets are woven of creepers, straw, 
and twigs. Ropes and cords are made of plant fibers and cotton thread. 
Women beat the raw cotton with sticks to separate the fibers and twist 
the thread with the aid of some sort of spindle. Cotton thread is used in 
knitting net fabrics for featherwork, and in making hammocks. Fibers 
from the outer surface of muriti palm leaves are sometimes used in mak- 
ing hammocks. 

Ceramics. — Pottery vessels, made by women, are modeled directly 
from a mass of clay and are said to be of poor quality. 

Weapons. — The following weapons have been mentioned but not 
described : Bows, arrows of reed and of wood, poisoned war arrows, 
unpoisoned hunting arrows (Martius, 1867), spears with bamboo blades, 
javelins, wooden knives, hafted (stone?) axes, and war clubs. A cotton 
bandage was wrapped around the knuckles of the bow hand to protect 
it from the bowstring. Katzer (1901) has published illustrations of a 
number of flat, polished stone ax heads, of oval or nearly quadrangular 
shape, with lateral notches ; these were found archeologically in Miindu- 
rucu territory. He reports that the Mundurucu still make such stone 
objects, but keep them merely as valuables or as children's toys. 


Despite hostility between the Mundurucu and their neighbors, they 
traded their featherwork extensively. They are said to have depended 
on an unidentified northern source for arrow poison. After the advent 
of the missions, manioc meal, sarsaparilla, and other forest products were 
exported to Santarem in considerable quantities (Martius, 1867). 


According to Kruse (1934), the Tapajoz River Mundurucu have a 
patrilineal sib and moiety system. There are 34 sibs whose members are 


related to eponymous plants and animals. Sib ancestors are embodied in 
large ceremonial trumpets called "kaduke," which women are forbidden 
to see upon pain of lifelong unhappiness. Certain sibs are "related." 
but the nature of the relationship has not been specified. The sibs are 
grouped in exogamous moieties: a red moiety of 15 sibs and a white 
moiety of 19 sibs. A list of the sib names is given by Kruse (1934). 
In Mundurucu tradition these sibs were once warring tribes ; their pacifi- 
cation and organization into the present tribal society is attributed to 
the culture hero. 

Polygyny is practiced by men of rank. Younger wives are sometimes 
solicited voluntarily by the elder wife. Martins reports the levirate. He 
also states that if a marriageable girl's father dies, and she finds no suit- 
able husband, her mother's brother is obliged to marry her. It is perhaps 
corroborative evidence of this type of marriage that in the kinship terms 
given in Stromer's vocabulary, a woman addresses her brother and son- 
in-law by the same term (tapo). 

Patrilocal residence is indicated by Martius' report (1867) that a 
woman guilty of adultery may be expelled from the house and return to 
her own family. According to Hartt (1885), each family's section of 
the communal house is identified by the family's color painted on the 
post of the partition. No further information about this color symbolism 
is given. 

Each communal house is said to have its house chief and its shaman. 
Above house chiefs and shamans in rank are war chiefs, chiefs of sub- 
tribes (regional groups or moieties?), and a chief shaman. Bates (1892) 
is the only writer who mentions a paramount tribal chief. Farabee 
(1917 a) makes an obscure reference to differences in class between war 
chiefs and "civil" chiefs (house chiefs?). He also states that the sons 
and daughters of war chiefs intermarry. 


The central military institution was the group of warriors living in the 
men's house. This house and the village were constantly guarded by a 
patrol whose leader gave signals by means of a trumpet or flute. When 
a war expedition was being planned, a pledge stick was passed among 
the warriors by the war chief. A warrior pledged himself to join the 
expedition by cutting a notch in the stick. When the war party got under 
way, absolute authority was vested in its leader. 

War was generally waged during the summer dry season. Whenever 
feasible, each warrior was accompanied by his wife or sister, who carried 
his equipment, prepared food, strung hammocks, aided him if he were 
wounded, and assisted in the preliminary preparation of trophy heads. 
The women, according to most authors, took no part in the actual fighting. 


though Martius reports that women participated in the battle to the extent 
of recovering arrows shot by the enemy and deHvering them to cheir own 
warriors. He even asserts that the women "cleverly catch the arrows of 
the enemy in flight" (Spix and Martius, 1823-31, 3: 1,313). The usual 
method of attack was to assault the enemy village at daybreak and to 
fire the huts by means of incendiary arrows. During the fight, the war 
leader stood behind his warriors directing the attack. Assistants signaled 
his orders on their trumpets. Women and children of the enemy were 
taken prisoner; the women were later married by Mundurucu men, and 
the children were adopted. But enemy warriors were killed and their 
heads taken as trophies. 

A Mundurucu warrior who had fought bravely but because of a wound 
had failed to obtain a head, received in compensation a cotton belt from 
which hung teeth removed from enemy heads. Such a belt might also 
be given to the widow of a warrior killed in battle (pi. 23, right), and 
her possession of it entitled her to be supported by the community. When 
a warrior had been wounded, his name was not spoken for a year ; during 
this time he was considered to be dead. At the end of the year, a feast 
was given to reinstate him in the community. 

Trophy heads were dried and colored with urucu or genipa ; the brain 
cavity was filled with cotton and a carrying cord was laced through the 
lips (p\. 23, left). ilfwncfwrMcw trophy heads were not shrunken. (Koser- 
itz (1885) and Barbosa Rodrigues (1882 a) were both in error on this 

Stromer believes that the Mundurucu were cannibalistic, basing his 
belief on a passage in native text which seems to imply that some part 
of the trophy head was eaten. Kruse ( 1934) denies that the Mundurucu 
were in any way cannibalistic; Nimuendajii (personal communication) 
doubts the credibility of Stromer's informants on this subject. 


Birth and naming^. — According to Martius, the father keeps to his 
hammock for several weeks after the birth of a child and there receives 
the visits and solicitude of his neighbors. Immediately after its birth, 
the child is given a totemic name. Other names are added as the child 
grows older. If a man performs a heroic deed in hunting or warfare, 
his heroism will be commemorated by an additional name. When children 
reach their 8th year, their tatooing begins, and a boy takes up residence 
in the men's house. 

Puberty and marriage. — Martius (1867) says that a girl at her first 
menstruation is required to undergo a long period of fasting "while ex- 
posed to the smoke in the gable of the hut." 

A girl may be betrothed while still quite young to a mature warrior. 
Though she remains with her parents and the marriage is not consummated 


until she reaches puberty, the prospective husband assumes the responsi- 
bility of providing food for her and her parents. A younger man may 
obtain a wife by giving several years' bride service in the household of 
the girl's parents. 

Death and burial. — An "executioner" was pointed out to Martius, 
whose duty it was to despatch the fatally ill and the senile. Attribution 
of this custom to the Munduructi is said to be widespread among 
neighboring tribes. 

When a death occurs, the maternal relatives of the deceased cut their 
hair, blacken their faces, and conduct a prolonged wailing for the dead. 
The corpse, wrapped in a hammock, is placed upright with flexed knees 
in a cylindrical grave under the floor of the dwelling. Grave goods con- 
sist of ornaments and other small objects. Skeletons of men of high 
status are exhumed and burned after the flesh has decayed; the ashes 
are buried in jars. 

When a warrior is killed on a distant battlefield, his head is taken 
back to the village and put on display with his ornaments, trumpet, and 
weapons. After a feast in honor of the deceased, the head is suspended 
from the neck of his mother, widow, or sister, and his fellow warriors 
pledge to avenge his death. During this ceremony the shaman is isolated 
in a special hut where he blows the sacred trumpet (kaduke). The cere- 
mony is repeated at yearly intervals, terminating with the fourth per- 
formance, when the head is finally buried in the house of the deceased, 


At the beginning of winter, the Mundurucu perform a ceremony which 
on alternate years invokes success in hunting and in fishing. The shaman, 
isolated in a special hut, propitiates the guardian spirits of game animals 
and fish. A ventriloquistic dialogue in which the voices of the animals 
are heard proceeding from the hut informs the people of the shaman's 
success in obtaining the favor of the spirits. OflFerings are made to the 
skulls of animals and fish. The ceremony is directed by a feast leader 
who is both a prominent warrior and a good singer. Tocantins (1877) 
reports a similar annual ceremony to propitiate the spirits of maize 
and manioc. 

Farabee (1917 a) describes a feast held at the first full moon in May 
to celebrate the first hunt following the birth of the April litters of 
peccaries. After a feast in which young peccaries are eaten, there is 
a dance in which the performers imitate a herd of peccaries. Children 
run among tlie dancers like young peccaries while the older people 
imitate the sound of peccaries feeding; a dancer representing an old boar 
protecting the herd wrestles with another dancer who plays the part of 
a jaguar. The boar succeeds in holding oflf the jaguar while the herd 
of peccaries escapes. 


In another dance the peccaries are pursued by hunters and their dogs. 
The peccaries take refuge in a hole in the ground. The hunters then 
simulate the construction of a trap by standing with legs astraddle to 
represent an alley of stakes; the peccaries try to escape between the 
lines of stakes and are killed by a hunter at the end of the alley. 

An abbreviated description of a peccary festival is given by Stromer 
(1932). This is a hunting ceremony in which the skulls of animals 
play a role. Sexual intercourse is performed ritually by the participants. 
At one point in the ceremony, the performers dance on a heap of peccary 
hair while they sing an invocation of success in peccary hunting. 

At a special men's festival in honor of the sib ancestors the sacred 
trumpets are blown. At the conclusion of the ceremony, a special bev- 
erage is poured through the trumpet into a cup and drunk by the partici- 
pants. The ceremony, performed by men alone since women are not 
permitted to see the trumpets, is said to propitiate the sib ancestors 
and to obtain their good will toward their descendants. 

At the tree festival a tree is set up in the center of the dwelling house ; 
the participants stand around it while the shaman smokes tobacco and 
invokes on the house the protection of Karusakaibo, the creator god. 


The shaman determines the most favorable time for war parties, exor- 
cises evil spirits, takes a leading part in ceremonies, cures the sick, detects 
sorcerers, and intervenes to terminate eclipses of the sun. Illness is 
believed to be caused by the intrusion of a worm into the patient's body, 
or by sorcery. The shaman cures the intrusion by blowing smoke on the 
patient's body and sucking out the worm. When many deaths or much 
sickness occur the malevolence of a sorcerer is suspected; the shaman 
detects the sorcerer and informs the chief of his identity. The chief ap- 
points two warriors to follow the sorcerer until they have a favorable 
opportunity to kill him. Some hints as to the technique of sorcery are 
given in Stromer's vocabulary. He records the word, yamain, meaning 
"to cut off the head and set it back again," and the word, yakut, "hole in 
the earth in which to bury the head" — both with reference to the practice 
of sorcery. 

Sorcery is said to be virtually the sole cause of homicide among the 
Mundurucu. Adultery is punished by the expulsion of the guilty persons. 
When two men become antagonistic, one of them takes his hammock and 
goes to live in the men's house of another village. 


The creator god and culture hero of Mundurucu mythology is Karusa- 
kaibo (Caru-Sacaibe (Tocantins, 1877)); Karusakaibe (Kruse, 1934); 


Karusakaibu (Farabee, 1917 a). His wife, Sikrida (Stromer, 1932) ; 
Chicridha (Tocantins, 1877), is a Mundurucu woman. Korumtau 
(Carutau (ibid.)) is his eldest son and his second born is Anukaite 
(Hanu-Acuate (ibid.)). Karusakaibo's companion and helper is Daiiru 
(Rayru (ibid.)), an armadillo. 

Conflict between Karusakaibo and his sons and companion is a recur- 
rent theme in several myths reported by Stromer and Tocantins. In one 
story, Anukaite is seduced by his mother. Karusakaibo learns of the 
incest and in anger pursues his son. Anukaite delays his flight to have 
sexual intercourse with several importunate women whom he meets on 
the way; his father overtakes him and transforms him into a tapir. The 
insatiable women are transformed into fish. 

On another occasion the offenders are Daiiru and Korumtau. Their 
offense is not explained clearly in the account (Stromer, 1932) but ap- 
pears to involve an improper relationship between Korumtau and some 
peccaries, for which Daiiru is partly responsible. Again the guilty are 
pursued by Karusakaibo; to evade his father, Korumtau transforms him- 
self successively into a peccary, a cricket, a bird, and a monkey. Once he 
is wounded by an arrow shot by the pursuing father, but the armadillo 
draws the arrow from the wound. The animals of the forest give aid by 
warning of the father's approach. Finally, the two fugitives throw them- 
selves into a body of water and escape. 

The Mundurucu origin myth tells of the emergence of mankind from 
under the ground. According to one version (Farabee, 1917 a), Karusa- 
kaibo had made the world but had not created men. One day Daiiru, the 
armadillo, offended the creator and was forced to take refuge in a hole in 
the ground. Karusakaibo blew into the hole and stamped his foot on the 
earth. Daiiru was blown out of the hole by the rush of air. He reported 
that people were living in the earth. He and Karusakaibo made a cotton 
rope and lowered it into the hole. The people began to climb out. When 
half of them had emerged, the rope broke and half remained underground, 
where they still live. The sun passes through their country from west to 
east when it is night on the earth ; the moon shines there when the earth 
has moonless nights. According to another version of the tale (Tocantins, 
1877) , the creator stamped his foot at the site of the village of Necodemos ; 
White people, Indians, and Negroes emerged from a fissure in the ground. 
The creator tattooed the Mundurucu like himself ; the Whites and Negroes 
scattered. Karusakaibo then showed the Mundurucu how to raise manioc, 
maize, cotton, and other plants and how to utilize them. It was he who 
traced the petroglyphs now found on certain cliffs in the region of 
Necodemos. Another origin-of-agriculture myth is given in a text gath- 
ered by Stromer (1937). 

Kruse (1934) reports a myth in which the women are said to have 
once been in possession of the men's house, while the men lived in the 


dwelling house. The men did all the work, including such women's tasks 
as fetching firewood, providing manioc, and baking manioc meal. The 
woman ruler of the tribe and two companions found three sacred trumpets 
and secretly practiced playing on them in the forest. When the men dis- 
covered the secret, they took the trumpets away from the women. The 
women were sent to the dwelling house and were forbidden to look again 
upon the trumpets, w^hile the men took possession of the men's house. 

Both Stromer (1932) and Farabee (1917 a) report a myth which tells 
that the sun once fell upon the earth and destroyed its inhabitants by fire. 
Five days after the fire, the creator sent a vulture from the sky to see if the 
earth had cooled, but the vulture remained to eat the bodies of men who 
had been killed. After 4 days a blackbird was sent, but it remained to eat 
the charred buds of the trees. Four days later, the creator sent a dove, 
which returned with earth between its claws. Then the creator came 
down and recreated men and animals of white potter's clay.* 


A few miscellaneous cosmological beliefs were obtained by Farabee: 
Karusakaibo created the sun by transforming a young man who had red 
eyes and long white hair. The moon is a transformed virgin with white 
skin. The rain spirit makes thunder by rolling a pestle in a mortar. The 
constellations are men and animals in a great savanna. An eclipse of the 
sun is due to a great fire which sweeps over its surface. A powerful 
shaman once ascended to the sun and put out the fire. Now, when an 
eclipse occurs, the shaman sends his yakpu to clear the sun. The yakpn 
(a fragment of meteoric iron) falls to the earth as a ball of fire. After 
it cools, the shaman puts it away until the next eclipse. 


Baena, 1885; Barbosa Rodrigues, 1882 a; Bates, 1892; Campana, 1904-06; Chand- 
less, 1862, 1870; Coudreau, H., 1897 a; Farabee, 1917 a; Hartt, 1885; Horschelmann, 
1918-20; Katzer, 1901; Koseritz, 1885; Kruse, 1934; Martius, 1867; Nimuendaju, 
1938; Nordenskiold, 1924 b; Spix and Martius, 1823-31, vol. 3; Steinen, 1899; 
Stromer, 1932, 1937; Tocantins, 1877; Wood, 1868-70. 

* For texts of some of the myths given in condensed form above, see Stromer (1932); for other 
myths, not included in this account, see Stromer (ibid.) and Tocantins (1877). Farabee (1917 a) 
also gives three animal fables which he attributes to the Munduriicii. 


By Curt Nimuendaju 


Cawahih (Kawahib, Cawahiwa, Cahahiha, Cabaiva, Caiihuahipe, 
Cahuahiva) is the 18th- and early 19th-century name of a people who 
later split into some six groups or tribes, among them the Parintintin and 
the Tupi-Caivahib (pp. 299-305). (Lat. 10° S., long. 58° W.; map 1, 
No. 2; map 3.) 

In the 18th century, a tribe named Cabahiba Hved on the upper 
Tapajoz River, between the confluence of the Arinos and Juruena Rivers 
and the mouth of the Sao Manoel River. Information about this tribe is 
scanty, partly because it never lived on the banks of the great river, 
unlike its neighbors, the Apiacd. The oldest reference to it, in 1797, 
appears in an anonymous manuscript (1857) with the laconic entry, 
"Cabahibas — Lingua Geral : situated below [the Apiacas], near the said 
confluence [Arinos and Juruena]." Subsequently, when the tribe may no 
longer have existed as a unit in that region, it is mentioned by writers 
who evidently based their statements on older data. The Cabahiba are 
not mentioned on the upper Tapajoz by any of the travelers of the first 
three decades of the 19th century who wrote on the Apiacd, but they are 
noted in other territory. The following is quoted from a list which 
Castelnau (1850-59, vol. 3) compiled in 1844, but which evidently refers 
to the situation at the beginning of the century : "The Cabaivas cultivate 
considerable plantations to the west of the Juruena, but they are located 
much farther from the river than the nations mentioned before (Tame- 
pugas, Urupu3'as, Macuris, and Birapagaparas)." Manoel Ayres Cazal 
(1707, p. 256) mentions them in 1817 in the same manner, "To the north 
of the latter ( Appiacas) live the Cabahybas who speak the same language." 

In 1819, some Apiacd informed Canon Guimaraes that the Caiihuahipe 
{Cazvahib) lived on the Paramutanga (parana-mitan, "red river," i.e., 
"Sangue River"), a tributary of the Juruena, and that they used silver 
ornaments. Melgago in his "Apontamentos" (1884) locates them ap- 
proximately in the same region, on the Campos dos Pareceis, between the 
Arinos and Juruena Rivers. Another Apiacd told Castelnau in 1814 

653333—47—21 qQQ 


that the Cahuahiva lived among the tribes along the Juruena, ,but were 
driven from the river shores by the Apiacd. There is no further mention 
in the literature of the name Cabahiba, but V. P. Vasconcellos' expedition 
down the Sangue River in 1915 (Rondon, 1916) found unknown and 
hostile Indians on its lower portions. The behavior of these Indians 
suggested that they were a Tupi tribe, as Rondon believed, and not 
Nambicuara, as Vasconcellos thought. 

As the name Cazvahib gradually disappeared from the writings about 
Mato Grosso, Parintintin began to appear in Para at the beginning of 
the 19th century. Parintintin (pari, "non-Mimdurucu Indian," rign-rign, 
"fetid") is the name given the Cawahib by the Mundurucu, its mortal 
enemies and neighbors to the north. 

The Mundurucu originally were concentrated in the region of the Rio 
das Tropas, but, since 1750, they have expanded mainly at the expense 
of the Cawahib. The Mundurucu, according to their tradition, expelled 
the Parintintin from the Cururu River Basin. They continued to perse- 
cute them until the beginning of the 20th century, and no doubt caused 
them to split into six isolated groups between the Sao Manoel-Paranatinga 
and the Madeira Rivers. It has been established that two of the most 
important of these, the Parintintin of the Madeira River and the "Tupi" 
of the Machado, call themselves Cawahib. Two others, one at the head- 
waters of the Machadinho River and the other in the interior between the 
upper Tapajoz and Sao Manoel Rivers, do not, judging by the few known 
words of their language, differ from the other groups. Historic and 
ethnographic data indicate that the fifth, that on the Sangue River, is 
probably also a Cawahib group. Of the sixth, on the upper Bararaty 
River, it is known only that they are hostile to civilized people and that 
they occupy a part of the former territory of the old Parintintin; it is just 
barely possible that they form part of the Cawahib tribe. 



Names of the Parintintin are: Self -designation, Cawahib; Cawahizva 
(kab, kawa, "wasp"); in Mundurucu, Pari-rign-rign, "fetid Indians"; 
in Mauc, Paritin, from the Mundurucu term designating all hostile In- 
dians; in Mura of the Autaz River, Wdhai; in Mura of the Madeira 
River, Toepehe, Topehe (from Mundurucu taypehe=penis?) ; in Pirahd 
Toypehe; in Tord, Toebehe (from the Mura) or Nakasefi, "fierce"; in 
Matanawi, Itoebehe (from the Tord) or Tapakard; and in the Lingua 
Geral of the past century, Yawaretd-Tapiiya, "Jaguar Indians." 

Until 1922, the Parintintin occupied the region between the Madeira 
River, the Amazonian parts of the Machado and Marmellos Rivers, and 
the right tributary of the latter, the Rio Branco. 

u m. 

'li^nir ^M WARIWA - TAP 




^^ /J7» ^~ — — ^»^^— ^^r.HAYRjt R r 


"^ Mj^R_A_ W_A^_ 

' — ' A "^a^K^"^ yuKAwr i in PUNA 

L— ^ /l^^ y / '^°BACMANA 


Cy/?/< «^yf >^ 

Mana'os K^ '-••» so'j 

j^^ AnomS 




lf\i CUMArARI 

y / 

C A T U K I N A 

^AJ_A_W J_S_H j_ cifnjr' 

/ l£'^-"'(i^^UMA 







Map 3. — The tribes of Central Brazil. Solid underlining, modern locations; 
broiien underlining, extinct portions of tribes; otherwise, date of location is 
given under the tribal name. Tribes not underlined are extinct. (Compiled by 
Curt Nimuendajd.) 

aUU»— 4S (F>cap.2M) 


The Parintintin language is pure Tupi, and differs from the upper 
Machado Tupi only in some phonetic variations. In the Parintintin 
vocabulary compiled by Severiano da Fonseca (1880-81) in 1878, 
only a few words can ,be identified, the remainder being incomprehensible. 
In 1922, Garcia de Freitas (1926) took the first vocabulary of 127 
words, and in December 1922, the present author (Nimuendaju, 1924, 
p. 262) collected a vocabulary of 328 entries. 

In 1922, the number of Parintintin was estimated at 250. Garcia de 
Freitas (1926) gave a total of 500 for that year, but included two adjacent 
groups. The existence of one of these is in doubt, and the number of the 
other may be less than the author thought. At present, the Parintintin, 
excluding the Apairande, who still keep aloof, number about 120. They 
are divided into three groups: (1) That on the Igarape Ipixuna, a 
tributary of Lake Uruapiara; (2) the Tres Casas settlement; and (3) 
the Calama group. The members of the last two are rubber gatherers 
(Garcia de Freitas, 1926). 

Parintintin were first mentioned as a cannibal tribe in the Madeira region in 1829 
(Castelnau, 1850, 3: 164). They occupied territory that belonged previously to the 
Tord, Mura and Pirahd. The earliest report of Parintintin hostilities known to the 
present author was in 1852. Since then, the Parintintin have probably made at 
least one assault each year on the civilized people, who were always more or less 
the losers. They became the scourge of the Madeira. 

Cruel guerrilla warfare dragged on for long decades. Punitive expeditions by 
the Neo-Brazilians, or by the Mimdurucii under the orders of the latter, did not 
improve matters. Colonel Rondon instigated an attempt to pacify the Parintintin, 
but his emissary fell into a pitfall and was seriously injured. In 1922, after several 
ineffectual attacks, the Parintintin made their first contact with the personnel of the 
Servigo de ProtecQao aos Indios at the Station on the Maicy River, a tributary of 
the Marmellos River on the left bank. Since then, the tribe has not again attacked 
the civilized people on the Madeira River. It has, however, suffered great losses 
from disease acquired through contact with civilization. Part of the survivors 
went into service under the rubber workers on the Madeira River, and another part 
remained peacefully on the Igarape Ipixima. 


The Parintintin practice extensive agriculture. They have a variety 
of maize so tender that it may be eaten raw. They also grow sweet 
manioc, sweet potatoes, bananas, papaya, urucu, and cotton. Formerly, 
they did not know tobacco or beans, not even by name. 

They are good hunters, though fishing is of greater importance. Tapir 
is their favorite game, and they relish monkeys but fear losing their 
arrows on them. To catch birds, they set out sticks covered with the 
viscous milk of guanani (Tomorita sp. ?) (Nunes Pereira, 1940, p. 36). 
They eat batrachians. 


The Parintintin take fish with weirs placed across the outlets of lakes, 
and with bows and arrows shot from their canoes. In suitable places, 
a fisherman awaits his chance on a platform built on a limb overhanging 
the river. Frequently, these Indians make decoys — full-size figures of 
fishes carved of tree bark and painted with charcoal — and hold them 
underwater by a long, slender rod stuck into the river bank. They lack 

The Parintintin have no domesticated animals and even fear small 
dogs, but they keep large numbers of wild birds. 

They roast maize in ashes or pound it in a mortar. They wet the 
flour and make it into balls the size of a fist, which are baked in embers 
and again crushed in the mortar. The dry flour thus prepared is eaten 
dry with meat or fish, or it is cooked as a porridge. The Parintintin 
also make flat cakes (beiju) roasted in embers. Their mortar is the 
vertical, cylindrical type. The pestle is a long, slender stick. When 
traveling, they carry small portable mortars. 


The huts are open rectangular sheds 20 m. (about 65 ft.) or more 
long and 6 m. (20 ft.) high. The roof sometimes extends beyond the 
hut to form a veranda. Inside, at irregular intervals between the uprights, 
there are horizontal poles from which the hammocks are hung. The 
hammocks are small because the Indians sleep doubled-up on their sides. 
A fire always burns inside. 

The huts are grouped at random, with no more than four in each 


A man's complete costume consists of four pieces. (1) The penis 
sheath is worn by all Indians. It is made of at least 12 overlapping 
leaves of aruma (Ischnosiphon ovatus), partly held together by two 
stitches. The edges are doubled, so as not to chafe the skin, and the 
whole piece before being put in place is rectangular in shape. The piece 
is wrapped around the whole penis to form a cylinder, the edges meeting 
on the underside. It is tied with a piece of cotton thread around the 
upper end and another at the head of the penis. To remove the sheath 
for urinating or washing, the threads are untied. No Indian over 12 
years old may go about without this sheath ("kaa"). Penis sheaths 
of exaggerated length (up to 40 cm.) are doubtless the basis for the 
legend of a tribe whose members, like the Parintintin kaa, hang to their 
knees. The Mundurucu called this tribe the "Taipe-sisi." (2) Some 
men wear a narrow belt of embira, tied in front so that its short fringes 
hang over the pubis. (3) All men wear one or more belts, each made 
of several rings of buriti stalks which are firmly joined in front but 


hang loose behind, partly covering the buttocks. (4) Arm bands are 
described below. 

Boys 8 to 12, who do not yet use the penis sheath, wear under their 
buriti belts two fringed embira aprons, one over the other. Smaller 
children go about completely naked or wear a small belt of buriti stalk. 

Sometimes people wrap embira around the ankles as protection against 

Women have no clothing, but generally tie a cotton thread below the 
knee and another above the ankle. 

Soon after birth, the earlobes of both sexes are pierced. Ordinarily 
nothing is worn through the hole, but some men put a little stick through, 
or, on special occasions, a little bamboo stick, the end of which rests on 
the shoulder, or a feather tuft. 

Feather ornaments, used exclusively by men and older boys, are not 
show3\ They comprise feather diadems and neck feathers. The diadems 
consist of a wide band of feathers of different colors, covered at the 
base by a narrower band of black feathers. The whole is mounted on 
a double ring of buriti stalks, with a circular elastic net made of cotton 
threads. The neck pieces are made of straw, feather tufts, cords, light 
sticks covered with fine feathers, and macaw tail feathers, from the 
points of which fine feathers or human hair are hung. Another ornament 
exclusively for men is a babassii straw armband, 3 cm. (1.2 inches) wide, 
decorated with small feathers glued to it and with tufts and long strings 
of feathers. Other ornaments are made of embira, with long fringes, 
or of tubular bones. Children wear necklaces of a great variety of ma- 
terials and a characteristic ornament consisting of two teeth of a large 
mammal, e. g., jaguar, peccary, or tapir, symmetrically tied or merely 
held by a string. The only women's ornament is a string of beads of 
tucuma and of bone. 

The Parintintm are always well-groomed and keep their hair combed. 
Eyebrows and lashes, but not body hair, are plucked. Both sexes cut 
their hair in a circle, so that bangs fall a little above the eyebrows and 
the top of the ears are covered. Some women wear their hair long, 
tied with a cotton thread behind. Hair trimmings are carefully collected 
to avoid their use in witchcraft. Combs are small and one-sided, the 
teeth being held between two pairs of sticks by a cotton wrapping. 

Tattooing is done with genipa dye. On men, it consists of three lines 
from each ear, one to the upper lip, one to the corner of the mouth, and 
one to the chin, with lines encircling the mouth, and a fishtail design at 
each corner of the mouth. Women have a rectangular Greek fret on 
the chin, the same length as the mouth with a wide line on each side 
from the fret to the ear. They also have a fine line over the eye and 
a horizontal line extending from the corner of the eye. Practically all 
men have a jaguar tattooed on the inside of the forearm and a pacu 


(Prochilodus sp.) on the outside. Commonly the left side of a man's 
back, from the shoulder blade down, has two vertical rows of 10 to 15 
rectangles of solid color. Other tatooed figures vary considerably from 
one individual to another. 

As pigments for body paint, the Parintintin use clay for white, urucu 
for red, genipa for dark blue, and burnt Brazil nuts for black, the last 
restricted to men. Women prefer urucu, with which they sometimes 
paint themselves from head to foot. For warfare and for welcoming 
a guest, which is done by simulating an attack, men paint a band 3 
fingers wide from one ear to the other, across the mouth. They also 
paint their forearms and trace horizontal stripes or irregular spots on 
either side of their chest and thighs. Some smear black on themselves 
without design. Certain warriors go into combat entirely covered with 
white, presenting a ghostly appearance. 


The Parintintin canoe is made of a section of "jutahy" bark (Hyine- 
naea) , with raised edges. It is reinforced by long poles along the sides, by 
inside cross pieces, which serve as seats, and by liana ties at the ends 
and from side to side. The bottom of the canoe is covered with a 
mat made of sticks. These craft are 5 to 7 m. (about 16^ to 23j^ ft.) 
long and 0.5 meter (ly^ ft.) wide. In spite of their crude construction, 
they can travel at a high speed. It seems that formerly the Parintintin, 
like the Apiaca, used only thick bamboos split in half as paddles, but 
later they stole so many paddles from the civilized people that they 
rarely used their original type. 


Basketry. — The Parintintin have few baskets, except temporary ones 
woven of green palm leaves. The best are made of babassu straw, with 
a round bottom. Fire fans are pentagonal, the larger ones being used 
also as mats when sitting by the fire (apparently the Parintintin have no 
benches). Sieves for maize flour are bowl-shaped. 

Spinning and weaving. — The spindle used for cotton has a small 
button on top of the shank and a jaboti (Testudo tabulata) shell whorl 
with incised decoration. The Parintintin may formerly have woven 
slings for carrying children, but at the time of their pacification, all were 
made of stolen cloth or of embira. Hammocks are made of cotton, and 
are twined ; the interval between the weft elements varies greatly. Sep- 
arate strands are not added at the ends to form suspension loops (sobre- 
punhos) ; instead, the long, strong warp strands of tauari (Couratari sp.) 
fibers are gathered into a bundle which is doubled back to form a loop. 


Pottery. — No clay pot was ever seen among the Parintintin, but this 
tribe knows the Tupi name for pot (nyaepepo, a word formed with nyae, 
"clay"), so that the ceramic art must have been lost only recently. 

Gourds. — The only vessels are made of calabashes and gourds. The 
latter were made with a narrow orifice for water containers, and with 
a wide opening and a suspension cord for holding small items. Calabashes 
are blackened inside, but lack exterior decoration. Cracks are repaired 
by sewing with thread. 

Weapons. — The main weapon is the bow and arrow. The bows are 
made of pau d'arco (Tecoma sp.) and are over 2 m. (6 ft.) long, with a 
semicircular cross section, and the belly side flat or slightly con- 
cave. The string is three-ply of embira or tauari (Couratari sp.). In 
shooting, the bow is held diagonally, the upper end slightly to the right. 
Children's toy bows are either round or semicircular in cross section. 

Arrows are of three types: (1) A fishing arrow, of wild cane 
(Gynerium) , approximately 2.5 m. (8^ ft.) long, without feathering and 
with one to three heads barbed with iron nails; (2) a small game arrow, 
used only occasionally in fishing or warfare, 1.5 m. (4^ ft.) long, with a 
slender shaft of camayuva {Guadua sp.), with tangential (arched) feather- 
ing, and tipped with a wooden rod, which is serrated on one side or cut 
with a series of fine overlapping cones; (3) a large game and war arrow, 
with a heavy camayuva shaft and a lanceolate bamboo head 40 cm. (16 in.) 
long. The last may have a barb on each side of the proximal end, two 
pairs of barbs, a powerful continuous row of teeth on one side, or no barbs 
at all. The point is extremely sharp, and the edges are made razor-sharp 
by means of an instrument consisting of a cutia {Dasyprocta aguti) tooth 
attached to a handle. Now and then the hafted end of the point has 
a beautiful fa.bric of black and white hairs of the peccary {Tayassu tajacu). 
Arrow feathers are generally of mutum {Crax) and royal sparrow hawk, 
and are 30 cm. (12 in.) long, flush and unspiralled; the wrappings are 
covered with fine throat feathers of the toucan. The 10 or 12 intermediate 
ties consist of very fine threads. 

On two occasions the Parintintin used plain round sticks, 1.5 m. (4}4 
ft. ) long, as clubs and discarded them afterward. They use bamboo daggers 
with sharp blades like arrowheads and the internodal end as the handle. 
These are the original knives which they used for various purposes, 
including cutting their hair. 

Fire. — Fire is made with a hand-rotated drill and a hearth which has 
three slightly concave surfaces. The drill penetrates one of the lateral 
surfaces through to the bottom surface, where the accumulated powder 
ignites. Lacking this apparatus, an arrow shaft and bamboo arrowhead 
are used. Charred cotton serves as tinder. 



Moieties. — The Parintintin are divided in two exogamic, unlocalized 
patrilineal moieties: Mitii (Mitua, mitu) and Kwandu {Harpia 
harpy ja, royal hawk). It is inconceivable to them that there could 
exist any person, even a foreigner, who was neither a Mitu nor a Kwandu. 

For a warlike people, it is strange that the Parintintin at the time of the 
pacification had no chiefs except family heads, whose authority was not 
absolute. During combat, warriors acted in unison only until the first 
round of arrows was discharged, after which each did what he pleased and 
fought if he had courage, or else ran off. 

Property. — At the time of the pacification, the majority of the 
Parintintin were admittedly incorrigible thieves who employed all sorts 
of tricks to steal the property of others openly or by stealth. Even within 
the tribe, individuals stole from one another, trusting their fellow tribesmen 
much less than the personnel sent to pacify them. This tendency was 
noticeable even among children. 

Modesty. — By the standards of civilized people, men behaved quite 
decently, although some individuals enjoyed obscene gestures and sayings. 
Women and girls, however, behaved with complete decency, and never 
made their nudity obvious. The men are ashamed to uncover their penis 
and, when bathing, turn their backs to others as they remove the casing 
to wash the member. They practice their physiological acts out of sight 
of others. 

Names. — Nothing is known about the manner of naming. People 
change their names frequently. They do not hesitate either to tell their 
own names or to ask those of others. Some names of men are : Tawari 
(Conratari sp.?), Mohangi (mohan, "medicine"), Mboavaim (mbo, active 
particle, ava, "man," im, negative), and Wiratib (wira, "bird," tib, "be"). 


War. — Before the pacification in 1922, the Parintintin lived in constant 
struggle with everyone outside the tribe. They had not the slightest 
respect for the life and property of others. For young people, who in 
general were turbulent, presumptuous, and disrespectful, war was not a 
deplorable necessity, but a favorite sport. 

The Parintintin attacked at any season and time of day or night, though 
most war was waged in summer. War parties never exceeded 20 men. 
With their bows ready, they would pounce upon the enemy without the 
slightest notice and with incredible speed, taking advantage of any open 
path which permitted unobstructed maneuvers. After their first round of 
arrows was sent through the enemies' straw huts, they burst out with war 
cries and discharged more rounds. The terrified inhabitants, seeking to 
escape, often ran directly into the arrows. Those who fell were promptly 
pierced by a stream of arrows, tramped upon, and beheaded. The victims 


occasionally saved the situation with firearms, but often the Parintintin 
won in spite of such defense. If they did not win on the first attempt, 
however, they withdrew immediately. 

Whenever possible, the Parintintin carried away their victims' heads and 
sometimes arms and legs. On the way home, they strewed the trail with 
caltrops made of bamboo arrowheads removed from the shafts, and, at 
the entrance of their villages, they dug carefully camouflaged pitfalls, 
bristling with bamboo points. The Parintintin never reared captive 

Warriors, especially young ones, decorated themselves for battle with 
beautiful feather crowns of vivid colors and with long neck feathers. Many 
painted themselves black with charcoal from chestnuts or with white clay. 

At the time of their pacification, the Parintintin were fighting only the 
Neo-Brazilians and the Pirahd. 

Cannibalism.— For a long time after the pacification, the Parintintin 
did not deny that they were cannibals. The latest case of cannibalism 
occurred in 1924 when they killed a family of Pirahd (Garcia de Freitas, 
1926, p. 70 s.). They saved a piece of the victim's flesh for the repre- 
sentative of the Servico de Protecgao aos Indios, who saw them at that 
time dancing with the roasted and shriveled hand of their victim. 

Trophies. — The Parintintin were passionate head hunters. The victims' 
heads were defleshed and cooked to remove every bit of flesh and to loosen 
the teeth. The teeth were made into a necklace that was given to one of 
the warriors. The skull was washed, tied with embira strips, and provided 
with a cord loop by means of which it was held over the left shoulder 
during dances. When visitors arrived, the warriors performed with the 
skulls. Immediately after the war greeting (see below), each warrior 
mimicked the struggle with the enemy whose skull he carried. He then ran 
back and forth in front of the visitors, singing a war song, during which 
he was followed by two young people who presented gourds filled with 
honey and water to the visitors. The trophy and the gourds were then 
placed in the front, and everybody shouted and shot arrows at the trophy. 
Then followed dances around the trophy, accompanied by bamboo flutes. 
Finally, others danced with the trophy, reciting their own deeds. 

According to Garcia, it was the custom to sacrifice prisoners in the 
plaza, killing them by means of a special spear (more probably a pointed 
club was used). 


When Indians from some other group approached, the inhabitants of 
the hut hastily put on their war paint, while chewing charcoal, and re- 
ceived the visitors with gestures and shouts of, "Let me kill !", They shot 
arrows over the heads of the visitors and uttered war cries. Then the 
household head went forward, put his hand on the shoulder of the first 


visitor to come to him, stamped his foot, and shouted a long speech of 
welcome in his ear. After this, they accepted the visitors and removed 
their war paint. 


Birth. — When a child is born, its father and relatives utter war cries 
and shoot arrows. 

Childhood and puberty. — Children are usually well treated, but oc- 
casional brutal treatment was observed. When their fringed aprons are 
replaced for the first time by penis covers, boys go into the jungle to hunt 
and bring home their kill. Before the penis casing is put on, mandibles 
(not stings) of tucandeira ants are applied to them. Then the youths 
approach the house, where they are greeted with war cries, and arrows 
are shot (Garcia de Freitas, 1926, p. 68). 

A girl's first menstruation is announced by war cries and arrow shoot- 
ing. According to Garcia de Freitas, girls 10 to 12 years of age are 
publicly deprived of their virginity, in spite of their objections; in one 
case, two Indians traded their sisters for this ceremony. The faces and 
bodies of young people, especially young men, bear the marks of bites and 
scratches received in amorous encounters, for it seems that before marriage 
there is much liberty for both sexes. 

Marriage. — Marriage is arranged by the parents. The groom some- 
times receives the bride while she is still a little girl and rears her. After 
a long time with his first wife, a man may take another, but Garcia 
noticed only three cases of bigamy in the whole tribe. Young men have 
a certain aversion to marriage because of the work entailed by famil}^ life. 
During the pacification period, no man ever showed disrespect toward his 
wife, but a woman was seen to grasp her husband by his hair and slap 
him, while he merely hid his face. On overland trips, the husband carries 
his wife's as well as his own basket of goods, and on water he alone paddles 
the canoe. 

Before their pacification, the Parintintin accorded old people little 

Burial. — The body is painted with urucu, decorated with a feather 
diadem, wrapped in the hammock with its legs drawn up and its hands 
placed between the thighs, and buried in a square grave, 1.5 m. {Ay2 ft.) 
deep, in the house. Before the open grave, the possessions of the deceased 
are distributed among his friends and relatives, but his war arrows are 
broken and burned. The grave is filled and the earth beaten down with 
the feet and smoothed with water. Mortars and heavy tree trunks are 
placed over the grave to protect it against the evil spirit. The women cry 
much, and the men maintain an attitude of sorrow. 



Art. — The best Parintintin pictorial art is tattooing. Crude figures of 
animals and people are sometimes cut on flutes and horns. Wood carvings 
are crude and at times of monstrous ugliness. 

Music and dancing. — A triumphal dance, held after receiving some 
object, consists of eight steps forward, a half-turn, and eight steps back, 
etc., and always ends with two double tones on the panpipes and a war 
shout. It is accompanied by improvised singing. 

The Parintintin dance in a circle to the bamboo clarinet (tore). Each 
man keeps his arms around the shoulders of the man next to him and 
dances in this position, jumping with both feet together. Women occa- 
sionally take part in it, passing slightly hunched under the arms of the men. 

Musical instruments. — The bamboo flute is 1.5 m. (5 ft.) long. The 
panpipes have 7 to 15 pipes. A bamboo flute, one finger thick and closed 
on one end by an internode, has a rectangular opening on side for the 
mouth and another near the open end for the fingers. Other flutes are 
double, connected by the common internode in the middle. Signal trumpets 
are made of thick bamboo and are blown through a side opening. A 
child's toy consists of a whistle made of the skull of an acouti-puru 
(Sciurus sp.) with all openings, except the foramen magnum, plugged 
with wax. 

Narcotics. — The Parintintin formerly did not know tobacco, and at 
first it was so repellent to them that they would not go near a person who 
was smoking. 

Nunes Pereira (1940) mentions the invention of cauim, or chicha, by 
the wife of the culture hero, Bahira, who toasted maize, chewed it up, 
put it in a gourd with water and honey and let it ferment many days. 

According to Garcia de Freitas (1926), the Parintintin sang to the 
Sun. The song lasts the whole night, until sunrise, during which time 
they drink only chicha, being forbidden to eat. They regard the moon as 
the protector of crops, believing that it waters them at the right time. 

Ghosts that cause nightmares are sent to "heavenly mansions" by means 
of chants. They are carried there by the Kaihii spirit (macaco coata, 
Ateles sp.) 


Some Parintintin myths have been transcribed by Nunes Pereira 
(1940), but they seem incomplete and contain some mistakes. The prin- 
cipal character is the culture hero, Bahira, the equivalent of the Apiaca 
Hairy and the Tupinamba and Temhe Maira. Undoubtedly, Bahira had 
a companion, like most culture heroes, but Nunes Pereira assumed him to 


be a different character according to the occasion. The character called 
an "Indian" by the same author is none other than Azon of the Tembe 
and Anyai of the Apapocuva-Guarani, as proved by the episode in which 
Bahira fools him during the fishing party and the scalping. Some of 
Bahira's adventures are based purely on Tupi themes, e.g., the theft of 
fire from the vultures. The motif of the pursuing devil, who was killed 
tossing a cluster of anaja (Maximiliana regia) on his head, occurs also 
among the Shipaya, The story of the man who is imprisoned on a tree 
or in a cliff near the nest of a bird is known to the Tembe and to various 
Ge tribes {Apinaye, Canella, Sherente, Cayapo). The story of the pris- 
oner who later changed into a sparrow hawk and took revenge on his 
malefactor is also found among the Tembe. 

Some Parintintin motifs are entirely lacking in the folklore of other 
Tupi tribes. Thus, the exchange of excrements by which the ant-eater 
deceives the jaguar, belongs to Caingang and Baca'iri folklore. The tale 
of the hero, who is made invulnerable and, changed into a fish, escapes 
with the arrows shot at him, occurs among the Sherente, Camacan, and 
Mashacali. The story of the fish which are caught by the hero and changed 
into people, and the theme of the mosquitoes originating from the stomach 
of a mutum {Crax sp.) are motifs of the Tucuna folklore. 


In 1914 or 1915, a band of unknown Indians appeared on the upper 
Anari River, a left tributary of the lower Machado River, at lat. 9° 40' S., 
on lands previously inhabited by the then almost extinct Jaru. The band 
had come from the left branch of the Branco River, a tributary of the 
Jamary, where it had lived peaceably until friction developed with rubber 
collectors. In reprisal for an attack, the Indians' village and farms were 
destroyed, and the group fled to the Preto River region, but, failing to get 
along with the rubber gatherers there, it moved on to the headwaters of 
the Agua Azul and Limaozinho Rivers, tributaries of the Madeirinha, and 
to the Carmelo and Jandahyra River regions. Here they founded three 
villages. In 1916, they were established on both banks of the upper 
Machadinho River. Rubber gatherers of the Preto River drove them out 
of the Carmelo region, but in turn were attacked. Attempts to pacify 
these Indians began in 1916 but all failed (Horta Barboza, 1916, pp. 9 f., 
26, 32), and, to the present date, 1942, the tribe has maintained its hostile 

The cultural data below indicate that the Indians of the upper Anari 
River constitute another group of Cawahib. The name Bocas Pretas, 
"black mouths," given them by Neo-Brazilians suggests that they have 
black tattoo marks around the mouth, like the Parintintin of the Madeira 



In 1916-17, Captain Horta Barboza gathered a few ethnographic data. 
These Indians grew maize, manioc, arrow-root, and cotton, but no bananas. 
One village consisted of nine huts and two large open sheds. There were 
baskets containing maize, and utensils for preparing meal. The Indians 
would not accept tobacco, but picked up other gifts that were put out for 
them. They had pots, a tore-type clarinet, 32 to 40 inches (80 to 100 cm.) 
long, and hammocks made of wild fibers with small cross twines. The 
tribe attacked with arrows, giving war cries, and they strew caltrops on 
the paths. Six words were collected from a captive girl. 


In the triangle between the upper Tapajoz and Sao Manoel Rivers, 
below lat. 10° S., there seems to be a tribe called Tapanyuna which has 
been hostile until very recent times. Coudreau and the Franciscans of 
the Cururu Mission refer to them as "Parintintin." Information given 
H. Coudreau in 1895 by the Mundurucii, who were then at war with this 
tribe, showed that it lived 2 or 3 days' travel above the Seven Falls of the 
Sao Manoel River. Father Hugo Mense (personal correspondence) 
describes them as tall, slender, handsome, long-haired Indians who are 
cannibals but good pilots. The Mission's published report, "Lose Blatter 
vom Cururu" (n. d.), contains 21 words which Mense obtained from a 
captive. The language is very similar to that of Cawahih. Until the 1920's, 
the tribe still made attacks in the region of the Sao Tome River and other 
right tributaries of the upper Tapajoz. Today it is no longer mentioned. 

Another mysterious tribe of the same region is the Taipe-shishi (a 
Mimdnrucu name meaning "large number"), called Taipo-chichi by Father 
Hugo Mense, Rdipe-chichi or A'ipo-sissi by H. Coudreau (1897 a), 
Taypeheh-shishi by Father Albert Kruse, and Takai-mbucwu by the 
Apiacd (according to Kruse, Takoi-mbuku, "long penis"). A missionary 
report found in the Arquivos da Inspectoria do Servigo de Protecgao aos 
Indios in Belem links the tribe to the Tapanyuna, probably using this name 
in the modern sense, but Kruse identifies it as Parintintin. The name can 
only refer to the exceedingly long penis sheath (16 in., or 40 cm.) worn 
by the Parintintin, or at least, by those of the Madeira River. The Apiacd 
informed Koch-Griinberg (1902) that this tribe wore their hair long, like 
Mense's "Parintintin," a feature which distinguishes them from the 
Madeira Parintintin and relates them to the Cayahi. The Taipe-shishi are 
probably the Parintintin who live in the region between the upper Tapajoz 
and Sao Manoel Rivers, and both names are synonyms designating a group 
of the Cazvahib tribe. 



Information which Father Guimaraes (1865) received from the Apiaca 
in 1819 put the "Cauahipe" on the Paramutanga (Sangue) River, a tribu- 
tary of the Juruena. Melgago ( 1884) says they were between the Juruena 
and the Arinos Rivers, and an Apiaca told Castelnau in 1844 that the 
"Cahuahiva" had been driven inland from the Juruena River by the 

In 1915, an expedition of the Commission of Stragetic Telegraph Lines 
from Mato Grosso to the Amazon, led by Lieutenant F. P. Vasconcellos, 
was attacked by Indians on the lower Sangue River. These Indians were 
strong and well built. They used bark canoes, grew manioc and bananas, 
and had hammocks. The men wore fiber aprons, but the only woman seen 
was nude. Both sexes wore necklaces and bracelets, and had their faces 
painted white and three white and black lines painted on the wrists. Their 
arrows had an arched feathering (Rondon, 1916, pp. 259-270). 

Vasconcellos (in Rondon, 1916) classified this tribe as Namhicuara, 
but Rondon correctly related it to the "Parnauat" (Tupi of the Machado 
River) , for it is probably another oflshoot of the Cawahib. 


In Castelnau's list of tribes (1850-59, 3 : 104) compiled from early 19th- 
century data, he says that the Parintintin lived from Todos os Santos Falls, 
lat. 8° S., to a little above the mouth of the Sao Manoel River. In 1895, 
the Mundurucu who lived in the region of the Bararaty River (a left tribu- 
tary of the upper Tapajoz, about 6 miles above the Sao Manoel River) 
stated that about 8 days' travel from the mouth and above some falls, lived 
the Pari-uaia-Bararaty tribe (Coudreau, H., 1897 a). About 1920 these 
Indians assaulted rubber collectors of this same region, but today they are 
no longer mentioned. 

This may have been another Cawahib group which remained more or 
less in its original location. 


Friar Pelino de Castovalva, missionary to the Mundurucu in Bacabal, 
in a report prepared in 1876, refers to the appearance of a band of 
"Parintintin" in the vicinity of the mission (right bank of the Tapajoz, 
lat. 6° 25' S.). The Indians attacked a rubber gatherer at the mouth of 
the Jamaxim River, and killed a woman, whose head they carried away. 
The mission Mundurucu pursued them and captured several, but they con- 
tinued their bloody attacks, especially in the Jamaxim River region, until 


H. Coudreau alone has ethnographic data on this group, and he ob- 
tained them from a third party in 1895. Every year during the summer 
the tribe peaceably passed through the rubber forests on the Crepory 
and Caderiri Rivers, withdrawing in the winter to the interior of the 
forests between the Xingu and Tapajoz Rivers. The Indians wore their 
hair long, went completely nude, and had only a little tattooing on their 
faces. Their language was so similar to that of the Munduructi that 
they could make themselves understood without the use of the Lingua 

If, instead of tattooing, this tribe painted, the description given Cou- 
dreau fits only the Curuaya (pp. 221-222), which, from time immemorial, 
has lived to the east of the Curua River, a left tributary of the Iriri 
River. Curuaya tradition recounts long excursions made in remote times 
to the west, where they fought with the Karuziat (Mundurucu). It 
seems reasonable, therefore, to suppose that the so-called "Parintintin" 
of the right tributaries of the middle Tapajoz were really wandering 
groups of the Curuaya. These " Parintintin" ceased their assaults at 
exactly the time that the Curuaya entered into permanent and peaceful 
contact with the Neo-Brazilians of the Iriri River. Moreover, neither 
the Curuaya nor the missionaries to the Mundurucu mention any other 
tribe in that territory, and Dr. Emilia Snethlage, going overland in 1909 
from the Curua to the Jamaxim River and descending the latter, found 
no definite signs of the presence of Indians. 



Ayres Cazal 1807 (1707) ; Barboza Rodrigues, 1875 a; Castelnau, 1850^59, vol. 3; 
Castro and Franga, 1868; Chandless, 1862; Costa Pinheiro, 1915; Coudreau, H., 
1897 a; Dengler, 1928; Dyott, 1929; Farabee, 1917 a; Florence, 1941 (?) ; Fonseca, 
1880^1; Garcia de Freitas, 1926; Grubb, 1927; Guimaraes, 1865; Hoehne (see Costa 
Pinheiro, 1915) ; Horta Barboza, 1916; Katzer, 1901; Koch-Griinberg, 1902; Kricke- 
berg, 1922; Langsdorff (see Florence, 1941 (?)) ; Lose Blatter . . . {see Missionarios 
Franciscanos, n. d.) ; Martins, 1867; Melgago, 1884; Meyer, 1898; Missionarios Fran- 
ciscanos, n. d. ; Nimuendaju, 1924; Nunes Pereira, 1940; Oliveira Miranda, 1890; 
Peixoto de Azevedo, 1885; Rivet, 1924; Rond6n, 1916; Rossi, 1863; Sao Jose, 1847; 
Schmidt, M., 1903, 1905, 1929 a ; Schmidt, W., 1913 ; Servigo de Protecgao aos Indies, 
1942; Souza, A., 1916; Steinen, 1886, 1940; Telles Pires (see Oliveira Miranda, 
1890) ; Tenan, n. d. ; Tocantins, 1877; Vasconcellos (see Rondon, 1916). 


By Claude Levi- Strauss 


The Tupi-Cawahib are not mentioned in the literature prior to 1913-14, 
when they were discovered by General Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon, 
who headed the Brazilian Military Commission. Little information about 
them is contained in the reports of the Commission (Missao Rondon, 
1916; Rondon, 1916). 

The Tupi-Cawahib declined rapidly in population within a few years. 
The 300 individuals who comprised the Takwatip clan in 1915 were re- 
duced in 10 years to only 59 persons — 25 men, 22 women, and 12 children. 
In 1938, there were only 5 men, a woman, and a small girl. Thirty 
years ago, the entire Tupi group probably included from 2,000 to 3,000 
persons; now only 100 or 150 of them are alive. Epidemics of grippe, 
during 1918-20, are largely responsible for the decline in population. 
Several cases of paralysis of the legs, observed in 1938 (Levi-Strauss, 
n.d. a), suggest that poliomyelitis may have reached this remote region. 

According to the linguistic and historical evidence presented by Nim- 
uendaju (1924, 1925), the Tupi-Cawahib and Parintintin are the rem- 
nants of an ancient Tupi tribe, the Cabahiba. Since the 18th century, 
it has often been stated that the Cabahiba had once lived in the upper 
Tapajoz Basin. The language of the Tupi-Cawahib closely resembles 
that of the Parintintin, and both are related to the language of the Apiaca 
of the Tapajoz River. After the destruction of the Cabahiba by the 
Mundurucu, the Tupi-Cawahib settled on the Rio Branco, a left tributary 
of the Roosevelt River (lat. 10'-12° S., long. 61 "-62° W.) From the 
Rio Branco they were driven to their present territory on both sides 
of the Machado (or upper Gi-Parana) River, from the Riosinho River 
in the southeast to the Muqui and the Leitao River in the north and the 
northwest. These three waterways are small tributaries of the Machado 
River. The native groups mentioned by both Rondon and Nimuendaju 
(1924, 1925) are clans with special geographical localization. Ac- 
cording to Nimuendaju's informant, the Wirafed and Paranawdt 
(Paranauad) were settled on a tributary of the right bank of the 

653333—47—22 ^qq 


Riosinho River. The Takwatib Eriwahun (Nimuendaju), or Taktvatip 
(Levi-Strauss), who had once Hved on the Tamuripa River, a right 
tributary of the Machado River, halfway between the Riosinho and 
the Muqui Rivers, were brought by General Rondon to the Rio 
Machado, where they lived until 1925, when the last six members of 
the group joined the Telegraphic Post of Pimenta Bueno. The Ipotezvdt, 
mentioned by Rondon, are no longer an autonomous unit. According 
to information recorded in 1938, they were then living on the upper 
Cacoal between the Riosinho and Tamuripa Rivers. Living downstream 
were the Tucmnanjct. The Paranazvdt, mentioned by Rondon and Nim- 
uendaju, lived on the Rio Muqui in 1938. They numbered about 100 
individuals and had refused to have any contact with White people. 
When the remnants of the previously unknown Mialat were discovered 
in 1938 on the upper Leitao River, there were only 16 members of the 
group (Levi-Strauss, n.d. a). The now extinct Jabotifet were formerly 
settled between the upper Cacoal and Riosinho Rivers. 



Farming. — The Tupi-Cawahib cultivate gardens in large clearings 
near their villages and hunt game in the dense forest. They raise : both 
bitter and sweet manioc; five kinds of maize — a white one with large 
kernels, a dark red variety, a kind with white, black, and red kernels, 
one with orange and black kernels, and a red "chine"; small, broad- 
beans; peanuts; hot peppers; bananas; papayas; cotton; and calabashes. 
Digging slicks and stone axes were formerly used for preparing and 
tilling the fields. 

Wild foods. — The Tupi-Cawahib gather several wild foods. To facili- 
tate the collection of Brazil nuts, which are abundant in the region, they 
clear the forest around each tree. They collect two kinds of cacao beans 
which are eaten raw and several kinds of berries. To harvest the small 
pyramidal seeds of an unidentified tall forest grass (awatsipororoke), 
the natives tie several of the stems together before the ears are ripe, 
so that the seeds will fall together in small heaps. 

The tapir, peccary, forest deer, great anteater, and numerous kinds 
of monkeys (pi. 25, left) and birds are hunted. Wild bees are killed 
in the hive by closing the entrance with a pad of leaves of an unidentified 
poisonous tree, and the honey is collected in coarse containers of bark 
or leaves. Fish are shot with arrows or drugged with a saponine-rich 
vine that is used in dams constructed of branches and mud in shallow 
places in rivers. When the Tupi-Cawahib were first observed by the 
Whites, they kept chickens in conical sheds made of sticks set in the 
ground in a circle and tied together at the top. There was no dog in 
the Mialat village discovered in 1938. 


Food preparation. — Game is singed and smoked in the skin, either 
intact or in pieces. Babracots are about 5 feet (1.5 m.) high and are 
constructed on four posts. Game is smoked for 24 hours; during the 
night, an attendant takes care of the fire. The babracot for drying 
beans is made of several branches placed on transverse sticks, which 
are supported on the prongs of a three-forked branch. 

Maize chicha (ka-ui) (pi. 24, left) is made by drying the kernels and 
grinding them in a mortar with a few Brazil nuts or peanuts for seasoning. 
The coarse flour is mixed with water in large bowls, and small children 
spit saliva in the gruel. After the chicha ferments a few hours, it is 
put on the fire, and is kept just below the boiling point for 2 or 3 hours. 
Fresh gruel is constantly added to compensate for the evaporation. The 
beverage is drunk as soon as it is cold or during the next 2 or 3 days. 

Manioc tubers are grated and roasted in large plates. Popcorn is 
made of maize and of the wild seed, awatsipororoke. Pama berry seeds 
are eaten roasted. In contrast to the neighboring Nambicuara, the Tupi- 
Catvahib are fond of highly seasoned foods. They cook hot peppers 
and broadbeans in a stew. A kind of salt is prepared by burning acuri 
palm leaves, sifting the ashes, and washing them with water. Both the 
water, which is dark brown and bitter, and the ashes, which form a gray 
astringent powder, are used as condiments. 


When Rondon discovered the Tupi-Cawahib, their square huts had no 
walls; the gable roof of palms was supported on posts set in the 
ground. Hammocks were svv^ung from the posts. In 1915 the Takwatip 
village comprised about 20 houses, each from 12 to 18 feet (3.5 to 5.5 m.) 
long, arranged in a circle about 60 feet (18 m.) in diameter. Two large 
houses in the center of the circle, each from 36 to 42 feet (11 to 12.5 m.) 
long, were occupied by the chief, Abaitara, and his wives, children, and 
court. Cages for harpy eagles and huts for fowls were in the open space 
of the circular plaza. There were no fortifications surrounding the village. 
Quite different was the Mialat village discovered in 1938. Of the four 
square houses, each about 30 feet (9 m.) long, situated in a row, two were 
used for living quarters and two for food storage. The roof frame was 
supported by posts, irregularly spaced and set back under the projecting 
roof, so that the house resembled a square mushroom. The storage 
quarters had no walls. Each of the other two houses was surrounded by 
a continuous palisade about 6 feet (2 m.) high, which gave the appearance 
of a wall but actually did not support the roof, as there was an opening a 
few inches wide between the lower edge of the roof frame and the top 
of the palisade. The palisade, which had loopholes (pi. 25, right) for 
shooting arrows, was made of longitudinal sections of palm trunks, fast- 
ened edge to edge, the convex surface turned outward. The exterior was 


decorated with jaguars, dogs, harpy eagles, snakes, frogs, children, and 
the moon painted in urucii paste. 

Platforms were built along the paths leading to the villages as lookouts 
from which the moves of hostile groups could be observed (Rondon, 

Tree trunks were used to bridge small waterways. 


According to Rondon (1916), men wore a garment of woven cotton 
resembling drawers. In 1938, Tupi-Cawahib men were naked, except for 
a small conical penis sheath made of the two halves of a leaf plaited and 
sewed. Women wore a short, cylindrical skirt of woven cotton string, 
which reached half-way to the knees (pi. 26). Modern Tupi-Cawahib 
women tattoo their faces with a sharpened deer bone and genipa, applying 
a geometrical design on the chin and two large symetrical curved stripes 
on the cheeks, running from the chin to the ears. Men used to paint them- 
selves with genipa or urucu dye when monkey hunting (Rondon, 1916). 
Both sexes wear bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and rings made of mollusk 
shells, nutshells, wild seeds, game teeth, and deer bones cut in rectangular 
plates (pi. 26) . For ceremonies, men wear a cap without a top made of 
a large band of woven cotton, over which feathers are stuck. The chief 
wears a heavy tuft of feathers hanging down his back. Both sexes pluck 
their pubic hair and eyebrows, using the thumb nail and a half shell. 
"Eyebrows wearer" is the derogatory equivalent of "civilized." Woven 
cotton bands are worn around the ankles, the arm, and the wrists. 


The Tupi-Cawahib made canoes of the bark of large trees (Rondon, 
1916), A baby straddles its mother's hip, supported by a cotton sling 
(pi. 26, right). 


Spinning. — Spinning is done by women. A Tupi-Cawahib spindle con- 
sists of a small stick, with a round wild seed for the whorl. It is very 
light and is used more for winding thread in balls than for spinning. 

Textile arts. — Cotton armlets and anklets are woven by women on 
primitive vertical looms. Women's skirts are woven and small hammocks 
are netted with cotton string, and carrying sacks are woven with tucum 

Basketry. — The Tupi-Cawahib weave flat sieves and baskets of bamboo 
strips and palm leaves, and fire fans of palm leaves, often decorating the 
fans with feathers. An ingenious rucksack for carrying large objects or 
animals is made by knotting two palm leaves together. 


Pottery. — The earthenware seen in 1938 consisted of hemispherical 
bowls, large ones for preparing chicha and small ones for individual meals, 
and large, circular plates for roasting flour. None were decorated. In- 
formants, however, speak of a purple dye obtained from a wild leaf which 
was used in former times for painting geometric designs. 

Weapons. — Tupi-Cawahib bows are about 5 feet 8 inches (1.7 m.) 
long and are made of a black palm wood. The section is circular and the 
ends are carved to form a knob and shoulders for fastening the string. 
The grip is wrapped with cotton. Arrows are of three types : those tipped 
with a large bamboo splinter, for hunting mammals; those with a blunt 
point, for bird hunting ; and arrows which have short feathers and four to 
seven bamboo points arranged as a crown around a small ball of string, for 
fishing. Feathering is flush and tied (Arara type), flush and sewed (Xingu 
type), or arched (eastern Brazil type) . Arrow poison is unknown. When 
shot, the arrow is grasped between the first and middle fingers, which also 
draw the string, or else it is held between the thumb and finger, and the 
string drawn with the other three fingers. 

To defend the paths leading to their villages, the Tupi-Cawahib set 
pointed rods or stakes obliquely into the ground, either singly or fencelike. 
The stakes are from 1 foot (30 cm.) (Levi- Strauss, n.d. a) to 4 feet 
(1.2 m.) (Rondon, 1916) in height, so as to impale the foot or the body, 
and are hidden under foliage taken from the surrounding forest. 

Other implements. — Boxes for holding feathers are made of hollowed 
sections of acuri palm trunks ; a longitudinal segment serves as a cover. A 
manioc grater consists of a wooden board with embedded palm thorns. 
Spoons and containers are made of calabashes. Ordinary combs and small- 
tooth combs are of the composite type. Drills and knives are made of iron 
pieces fastened onto sticks with wax and wrapper cotton. 


The Tupi-Cawahib are divided into several patrilineal sibs, each localized 
in one or more villages occupying a defined territory. There is a strong 
tendency toward village exogamy, which is regarded less as a binding rule 
than as a means of insuring good relations between neighboring sibs. 
Endogamic marriages are possible, although infrequent. Residence seems 
to be patrilocal, although contrary practices have been recorded. Conse- 
quently, the majority of individuals in any village belong to one eponymic 
sib, but are nevertheless associated with a few people belonging to different 
allied sibs. Besides the four group names mentioned by Rondon (1916) 
and Nimuendajii (1924), no less than 15 new sib names were recorded 
in 1938 (Levi-Strauss, n.d. a). As this list is certainly incomplete, 
the ancient sib organization must have been complex. In addition to sib 
divisions, each village was divided into two age classes, "the youths" and 


"the elders." The function of these age classes seems to have been mostly 

Chieftaincy is hereditary, passing from the father to son. In former 
times, the chief was attended by a hierarchy of officials. He possessed 
judicial power and imposed the death sentence, the convicted person being 
bound and thrown into the river from a canoe. When the Rondon Com- 
mission first met the Takwatip chief, Abaitara, he was apparently extend- 
ing his domination over a large number of sibs and trying, by means of 
successful wars, to establish his hegemony over others. 


Rondon mentions the decapitation of enemies killed in warfare, but does 
not state that head trophies were prepared. 


Childbirth. — A couvade is observed, during which both parents eat 
only gruel and small animals. Nuts of all kinds are forbidden them. 

Marriage. — The Tupi-Cawahib practice marriage between cross-cousins 
and between a maternal uncle and his niece. In the latter case, an adult 
man may betroth a baby girl, who remains under his care and to whom he 
gives presents until they marry. Although marriage is generally monoga- 
mous, a chief may have several wives, usually sisters, or a woman and 
her daughter. To compensate for the shortage of women thus created, the 
chief lends his wives to bachelors and to visitors, and fraternal polyandry, 
associated with the levirate, is practiced within the group. In a polygynous 
family, one wife has authority over the others, regardless of the differences 
of age or of previous family relationship. 

The existence of homosexuality is not openly acknowledged, but a word 
meaning "passive pederast" is commonly used as an insult. 

Death. — The deceased at the time of Rondon's visit was buried inside 
his hut under his hammock, which, with his weapons, ornaments, and 
utensils, was left undisturbed. Mourners, i. e., relatives, cut their hair 
(Rondon, 1916). 


Art. — Painting on house walls has already been mentioned. 

Narcotics. — Strangely enough, the Tupi-Cawahib do not cultivate 
or use tobacco. (For chicha, see p. 301.) 

Games. — Children play with crude toys made of plaited or twisted 
straw. In a disk game, "the youths" are matched against "the elders"; 
each age group alternately shoots its arrows at a rolling wooden disk 
thrown across the plaza by a pitcher. In another archery contest, they 


shoot arrows at a dummy representing a man or an animal. There is a 
belief that to shoot at a wooden dummy may bring death ; to avoid the 
risk, the dummy is made of straw. 

Dance and music. — Festivals were given by the chief, who assumed 
the title, "Owner of the Feast." Festivals were preceded by hunting expe- 
ditions to obtain small animals, such as rats and marmosets, which were 
smoked and strung together to be worn as necklaces. During the feast, 
men playfully carried a flute player on their shoulders. 

In 1938, the Mialat chief entertained his people several times with a 
musical show in which songs alternated with dialogue. He himself played 
the numerous roles of the comedy, humorously enacting the adventures 
of several animals and inanimate objects which were mystified by the 
japim bird. Each character was easily recognized by a musical leitmotif 
and a special register of the voice. 

Musical instruments. — The main musical instruments were pottery 
trumpets (Rondon, 1916), panpipes with 13 pipes, short flageolets with 
4 holes, whistles, and gourd rattles. A clarinet without stops was made 
of a piece of bamboo about 4 feet (1.2 m.) long; a small piece of bamboo 
in which a vibrating strip was cut formed the reed. 


We have no indication of the magical and religious beliefs of the Tupi- 
Cawahib. The chief is certainly endowed with shamanistic powers : he 
treats patients and improvises songs and dances in order to tell and enact 
his dreams, which are considered to have a premonitory significance. At 
the end of his musical show, he may become delirious and try to kill anyone 
in sight. ■ ■ ;■ , :( 

Although nearly all the sibs have animal or vegetable names, totemism 
does not seem to exist, for the eponymic plants or animals are freely eaten. 

Even today, the Tupi-Cawahib capture great harpy eagles, rear them 
carefully in large square cages, and feed them game, such as birds and 
monkeys. It is likely that this custom has a magical or religious back- 
ground, though nothing positive is known in this respect. 

Levi-Strauss, n. d. a; Missao Rondon, 1916; Nimuendaju, 1924, 1925; Rondon, 1916. 




u 'Si 









By Curt Nimuendaju 


These Indians call themselves Parud, but since their contacts with 
Europeans they also use the name Cayabi. 

Language. — There is practically no difference between the Tupi dialect 
spoken by the Cayabi and that of the Camayurd. Rivet (1924, p. 659) 
and Grubb (1927, p. 118) mistakenly place them in the Cariban family, 
probably because of some Bacdiri words which they used when they 
were encountered by A. Pyrineus de Souza's expedition. 

Tribal divisions and history. — Among the Indians met by Antonio 
Peixoto during his expedition to the Paranatinga River were perhaps 
Cayabi. The Mundurucu who accompanied the expedition called them 
Parabitata (parir, "non-Mundurucu Indians," bi; "lip," tata?). However, 
unlike the Cayabi, these Indians used rafts made of embauva trunks. 

The name Cayabi appears for the first time in Castelnau's report (1850-59, 2:306) 
on the Tapajoz region (map 1, No. 1; map 4). In 1848, the Cayabi figure in a list 
of tribes as indomitable Indians living near the Salto de Paranatinga. In 1884, 
Von den Steinen (1886) found among the Paranatinga Bacairi two Cayabi women 
who had been captured during their childhood by a party avenging a murder and 
the abduction of a child. Hostilities between the Cayabi and the Whites began with 
the advance of the rubber collectors into the region of the Paranatinga River. It is 
not unlikely that in 1899 some Cayabi lived, as Herrmann Meyer heard from the 
Aueto of the Culisseu River, on the Steinen River, the westernmost tributary of the 
Xingu River. In 1900, they were visited on the Paranatinga River by a Salesian 
missionary, Father Balzola. The vestiges which Max Schmidt found in 1901 on 
the headwaters of the Ronuro and Batovy Rivers and identified as Cayabi were 
more likely Cayapo, who were later reported in that region by Dyott in 1928 and 
Petrullo in 1931. In 1901, a skirmish took place between the Bacairi and Cayabi, 
and an expedition sent by Orlando Bruno and Co. found Cayabi near the mouth of 
the Rio Verde, on the Paranatinga River. In 1910, the Cayabi killed their long-time 
director, M. F. Valois Velho, and the same year a punitive expedition killed many 
of them and captured children. 

In May 1915, an expedition led by Lt. Pyrineus de Souza down the Paranatinga- 
Sao Manoel River, between lat. 12° 40' and 11° 30' S., had numerous encounters 



with Cayabi. The Indians remained friendly so long as the expedition had tools to 
offer. As Pyrineus de Souza encountered groups of 100 Indians in some places 
and 200 in others, the total number of the tribe can be estimated at about 1,000. 

In 1927, Max Schmidt had brief contacts with six Cayabi Indians who had come 
to get gifts at the Servigo de Protecgao aos Indios post located above the mouth of 
the Verde River, on the Paranatinga River. 

After 1936, the Cayabi, at first under the name of Makiri, began to appear peace- 
ably at the mouth of the Sao Alanoel-Paranatinga River. The missionary, Father 
Albert Kruse, took a short vocabulary from those who stopped at the Mundurucu 
mission of Cururti. In 1941, another post of tlie Servigo de Protecgao aos Indios 
was founded on the right bank of the Sao Manoel River, at about lat. 8° 55' S. 
According to the reports of the Arquivos da Inspectoria de Indios of Para, 90 
Indians appeared at the post in 1941, and 42 in 1942 and settled down somewhat 
above the post. Meanwhile, the mortality among these newcomers was very great. 


A. Pyrineus de Souza (1916) saw large cultivated fields and received 
from the Indians green maize with long and slender ears, cara, batata 
rouxa (sweet potatoes), and crushed peanuts, which the Indians ate with 
tapioca. The Indians made balls of meal wrapped in sororoca leaves. 
From manioc they prepare a highly fermented and very sour drink. 

In the forest, the Indians obtain many Brazil nuts which are especially 
important to them. They also eat barbecued and almost rotten deer meat 
and ducks broiled with entrails and feathers. 


The huts of the upper region of Cayabi territory are generally located 
in the fields, away from the rivers. On the banks are only small fishing 
shanties. Farther down the river, however, Pyrineus de Souza found 
dwelHngs along the river banks. 

In the houses were nets, gourds, small baskets, and shells, the last used 
as knives and carried hanging from the neck. 


Both sexes go about naked. From early childhood, males tie the fore- 
skin with a thick cotton string, which they always wear in public and 
remove only to urinate. 

Both sexes have the earlobes pierced for the insertion of pieces of 
wood, the tips of deer horns, or bamboo tubes, 3 to 4 inches long (7.5 
to 10 cm.) decorated with tufts of feathers. On the wrists and below 
the knees, men wear woven cotton bands. Women wear these bands 
only below the knees, but they also use a belt consisting of several tight 
strings of threaded beads made of palm nuts. 


For festive occasions men wear luxurious feather caps and headdresses. 
The caps are made of feathers and feather tufts mounted on a cotton net. 
Some men wear headbands of jaguar, monkey, or coati skin. 

Some women pull out their eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic hair. Men 
wear their hair long, tied at the neck. Women sometimes cut theirs 
at the level of the ears and comb it over the forehead. Hair is cut with 
a shell. 

The Cayabi paint themselves and dye their hair with urucii. Two wide 
parallel strips tattooed with genipa at the mouth level for men, and a 
single stripe on the cheek with vertical lines around the mouth for women, 
is perhaps a tribal characteristic, according to L. Tenan (n.d.). 


The canoes are made of cashew tree bark (cajui, Anacardium micro- 
carpum). The prow and stern are the same, and both are tied with a 
tough vine. The Indians paddle standing up. 

The Pyrineus de Souza expedition was attacked by the Cayabi when it 
had no more gifts. Before starting hostilities, an important member of 
the tribe sang and harangued the expedition. Warriors did not wear any 
special ornaments. They attacked by showering the enemy with arrows 
amidst loud shouting. 

A Cayabi arrow described by Max Schmidt is 5 feet 3 inches (1.6 m.) 
long with a shaft made of camayuva ( Gadua sp. ) , radial sewed feathering, 
and a bone point set so as to form a barb. The bow is flat on the cord 
side and convex on the outside. These Indians also fought with large thick 
clubs. According to the Baca'iri, Cayabi clubs are made of bacayuva 
wood. They are carefully carved, flat, about 5 feet (1.5 m.) long, and 
have a string loop. 

The Cabayi are said to have held a monopoly on stone axes, which 
caused conflict with the Bacdiri when the latter descended the Paranatinga 
River. The hostility between the two tribes is old, but was preceded by 
a period of peace. The Cayabi are also accredited with cannibalism. 
According to L. Tenan (n.d.), they decapitated a slain enemy and cooked 
the head, eating the meat and making a trophy and musical instruments of 
the skull. In their attacks against civilized people, they sometimes took 
children captives. 

See Cawahib, Parintintin, and Their Neighbors, bibliography, page 297. 



By 1747, at the time of the Joao de Souza's expedition, the Arino lived 
on the right bank of the Arinos River and on the upper Tapajoz River, 
from the territory of the Macuari (i.e., Bacdiri) at about lat. 11°50' S., 
to that of the Uarupd on the Haravan River (Sao Joao da Barra at lat. 
8° 55' S.). The name Arino then disappears and its place is taken by 
Tapanyuna (map 1, No. 1; map 4). 

Tapanyuna is not an Apiacd word, but a Lingua Geral term which means 
"negro." Martins consequently thought that these people were fugitive 
slaves, but actually the name refers to the black paint they habitually 

From the documents which Castelnau compiled (1850-59) on the 
Arinos River in the first half of the 19th century, the Tapanyuna lived on 
the right side of the Arinos River from Bacuri {Bacdiri) territory to the 
Juruena River and on the left side of the Arinos from the Bacuri to the 
Apiacd (lat. 11° S.). No other source mentions the Tapanyuna on the 
left side of the Arinos River. 

In 1812, the Apiacd warned Castro and Franga (1868) of a tribe which 
lived upstream on the right bank and used clubs. Three days later, they 
encountered three canoes which differed from those of the Apiaca, and 
they saw some fishing baskets. More details on the Tapanyuna were 
gathered by Guimaraes (1865) from the Apiacd in 1819. 

According to the Apiacd, there were three tribes on the Peixe River: 
First, the Tapanhona, on the river bank above the falls ; next, the Tapan- 
honaukum (perhaps it should be Tapii-un-uhu, "large Tapanyuna") in- 
land from the river bank; and third, the Timaoana {Cayabi, Timaudn, 
Tapanyuna) , the last of the tribes of the Peixe River. The first were tall, 
heavy-set, and warlike. They usually protected their dwellings with thorns 
or sharp stakes and with pitfalls all around. They used bows and arrows, 
and wore macaw and royal sparrow hawk feathers in their pierced ears. 
The Tapanhonauhum used bows and arrows and clubs, and were also war- 
like. They painted black circles on their faces, and adorned their 
pierced ears with multicolored feathers. The Timaoana, of average height, 
were cannibals, and painted their faces from forehead to neck. They used 
the same weapons as the preceding tribes. The women wore gold ear 
ornaments and beads. After 1820, only the Tapanyuna are mentioned. 
Metraux was correct in regarding the Tapanhonauhum and Timaoana as 
mere local subdivisions of the Tapanyuna. 

In 1820, Francisco Lopes da Sa (see Apiacd, p. 312) reached a Tapan- 
yuna village where he found only women and children. On his return he 
tried to get to the headwaters of the Peixe River, but was stopped by 
500 (?) Tapanyuna warriors. 

According to the tribal list of the Arquivos da Directoria de Indios of 
Cuyaba, the Tapanyuna numbered 800 people in 1848 and were hostile to 


the Apiacd and to the Whites, whose canoes they attacked. In 1895 H. 
Coudreau (1897 a) obtained meager information about a tribe which lived 
on the Tapanhuna River (Peixe River) and which spoke the same lan- 
guage as the Apiacd. They were said to lure travelers on the Arinos and 
upper Tapajoz River to their settlements and then to riddle them with 

Another list of tribes, compiled by Castelnau (1850-59), mentions 
only the Tapaiunagu (Tapanhonauhum) , a noncivilized, agricultural 
tribe living near the Namhicuara, and the Tamauanga (Thnaudn) who, 
like the former, were a hostile but industrious tribe. In 1892, the 
Tapanyuna (or perhaps the Parintintin) looted and fired the Apiacd 
village in the vicinity of the Sao Florencio Falls. In 1893 or 1894, 
a small group of Tapanyuna (or of the Parintintin ?) was massacred by 
the Mundurucu on the Furna Islands where they were gathering Brazil 
nuts. In 1895, they fatally wounded the first Mato Grosso state col- 
lector, Garcia Junior, at the mouth of the Arinos River. 

In 1915, Lt. Pyrineus de Souza was warned by the Cayahi in the Parana- 
tinga region that downstream there lived some wild Indians who painted 
their bodies and faces black and who might attack him with arrows and 
devour him. At a tributary of the left bank (about lat. 11° 15' S.), he 
found vestiges of the tribe : two small huts which differed from those built 
by the Cayahi, being constructed of poles cut with iron tools and covered 
with sororoca leaves. There were babracots for broiling meat and fish, and 
many fishbones around. A path led into the interior. 

After 1910, rubber workers along the tributaries on the right bank of 
the upper Tapajoz were sometimes attacked by hostile Indians. Those at 
Sao Tome they called Tapanyuna. It is probable, however, that these 
were not the Tapanyuna from the Peixe River, but Indians who were 
known formerly as Parintintin, In the MundurucH vocabulary prepared 
in 1912, Hoehne (in Costa Pinheiro, 1915) uses the word Paridindin as a 
synonym for Tapanhuna, proving the confusion in the naming of these 
two tribes, a confusion completed by the increasing tendency to identify 
the Tapayuna with the Namhicuara on the other bank of the Tapajoz 

The only known objects of this tribe are a stone ax reproduced by 
Coudreau, H. (1897 a, p. 91) and a rectangular wooden shield figured by 
Krickeberg ( 1922, 1 :276) . The latter is such a cultural anomaly that its 
being attributed to the Tapanyuna is very doubtful. 

See Cawahib. Parintintin, and Their Neighbors, bibliography, page 297. 



These Indians have always been called Apiaca. The Cayabi refer to 
them as Tapii-tin, "the white foreigners." 

History. — The Apiaca are mentioned for the first time in itineraries of 
1791 and 1805 pubhshed by Castelnau (1850-59, 3: 93). However, it is 
possible that they were one of the five tribes found on the Arinos River 
by Joao de Souza in 1747. In 1812, they established peaceful relations 
with the expeditions of Miguel Joao de Castro and Antonio Tome de 
Franga. In 1818, Antonio Peixoto de Azevedo took seven Apiaca to 
Cuyaba, and in the following year the Apiaca chief, Severino, and 14 others 
visited that city. From them, Jose da Silva Guimaraes (1865) obtained 
information for a memoir on their customs. Their tales about great 
mineral riches caused Father Francisco Lopes de Sa to undertake an unsuc- 
cessful expedition using Apiaca guides in quest of gold and diamonds. 

In 1828, the tribe was visited by the Langsdorff expedition and the 
artist, Florence (1941 ?), left a good description and excellent sketches of 
these Indians. 

Castelnau (1850-59, 2:313) met some Apiaca in Diamantino and 
obtained a vocabulary. 

Until 1848, the Apiaca (map 1; No. 1; map 4) inhabited the region 
between the junction of the Arinos and Juruena Rivers, from the 11th 
parallel northward. Their villages were located on the left bank of the 
Arinos River and on the right bank of the Juruena River, but both banks 
of the rivers were frequented somewhat beyond their junction. The 
Juruena River settlements had never been visited and all the descriptions 
refer only to the Apiaca on the Arinos River. 

The Apiaca were very numerous. Records, probably from the beginning 
of the 19th century, mention bands of 200 to 300 archers each year and a 
total of 16,000 persons. In 1812, Castro and Franga (1868) found about 
500 people in one settlement, 250 of whom were warriors. In 1819, 
Guimaraes (1865) mentions a village with 1,500 inhabitants. The Arqui- 
vos da Directoria de Indios of Cuyaba gives their number at 2,700 for 

In 1862, Rossi (1863) mentioned Apiaca on the left bank of the Arinos 
River, but Chandless (1862) located them above Salto Augusto. Their 
number was then declining. Barboza Rodrigues (1875) found the Apiaca 
in three villages a little above and below Salto Augusto. Under pressure 
by the Neo-Brazilians, a large part of the tribe had migrated to the Sao 
Manoel River, and became the Pari-hi-tete (a Miindurucu name meaning 
"non-Mundurucu painted lip Indians"). Twenty years ago, this tribe 
inhabited the upper course of the Apiaca River, a left tributary of the Sao 
Manoel, but it has since disappeared. In 1895, Coudreau, H., (1897 a) 


found its remnants (100 individuals) living in five huts between Salto 
Sao Simao and Sao Florencio. They were already dependent upon the 
Neo-Brazilian rubber gatherers. The men and some of the women dressed 
in civilized fashion, and there was evidence of some Negro mixture. 

Katzer (1901) published notes on the tattooing and language of the 
Apiacd found at Itaituba. In the same year, Max Schmidt collected a 
vocabulary from an Apiacd in Rosario, Mato-Grosso, which was published 
by Koch-Griinberg (1902) with a compilation of all the linguistic and 
historical data known on these Indians. 

With the establishment in 1902 of the Collectoria estadoal do Mato 
Grosso, the Indians fell on evil times. A great many were killed in reprisal 
for an attack they made against the collector's office. The situation changed 
only when Jose Sotero Barreto took the survivors under his protection and 
gathered them at the Collectoria. In 1912, there still lived 32 Apiacd 
(Costa Pinheiro, 1915, p. 75). In 1916 they were visited by Farabee 
(1917 a), who found them mixed with Negroes. 

Today the Apiacd no longer exist as a tribe. Only a few individuals 
live at the Collectoria at the mouth of the Sao Manoel River and in the 
Franciscan missions on the Cururu River. 

Language. — The Apiacd language differs very little from Camayurd, 
a Tupi-Guarani dialect spoken on the lower Culisseu River, from Cayabi 
of the Sao Manoel River, or from the dialect of the Cazvahih (Parintintin 
of the Madeira River and Tupi of the Alto Machado). Apiacd is pure 
Tupi and the difference between it and Tupinamha is somewhat greater 
than between Tupinamha and Gnarani. Soon after their first contact with 
the Neo-Brazilians, their language received several elements of the Lingua 



Farming. — The Apiacd cultivated extensive tracts of land and, accord- 
ing to ancient travelers, their fields stretched beyond sight. 

Planting was probably women's task and not a masculine activity, as 
stated by Guimaraes. The Apiacd raised bitter and sweet manioc, maize, 
cara (Dioscorca), yams, sweet potatoes, magorito, peanuts, beans, lima 
beans, pumpkins, cotton, and, already in 1848, watermelons. Tobacco is 
not mentioned and was apparently unknown. 

Wild foods included the Brazil nuts. 

Domestication. — Florence (1941 ?) mentions that in a single village 
he found 80 tame macaws and a falcon in a thatched stick cage. Early 
sources mention no domestic animals, not even dogs. In 1820, however, 
Florence found dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks. By 1848, the Apiacd sold 
fowls to travelers. 


Hunting and fishing. — According to the "Nova navegaqao" (Anony- 
mous, 1856), the Apiacd did not eat any kind of fowl; of mammals they 
only ate peccaries, tapirs, and capybaras. 

They caught fish in baskets set at the bottom of weirs across the 
mouths of streams. 

Food preparation. — Maize was crushed in a cylindrical mortar with 
a pestle 12 feet (3.6 m.) long. Roasted fish were crushed, bones and all, 
to make a flour. The Apiacd kept this and manioc flour in woven bags. 


Originally, the Apiacd lived exclusively on the river shores in settlements 
which, with rare exceptions, consisted of a single house, large enough to 
accommodate hundreds of people. These huts were rectangular with 
rounded ends, and were covered with a thatched roof of ubim or sape 
which rested on straight or arched rafters, and descended to within 1.50 m. 
(about 5 ft.) of the ground. The walls were made of paxiuba palm or of 
castanha bark. There was a main door of jatoba bark at each end, and 
several other doors in the long side walls. The living quarters where the 
Indians hung their hammocks extended on both sides of the hut, leaving 
the intervening space entirely free. Above the hammocks were platforms 
for storing maize and other foods. The house was surrounded by a large, 
carefully weeded clearing. 

Hammocks were made of cotton, either in a net technique or of coarse 
fabric (Castro and Franga, 1868, p. 112). 


Men tied to the foreskin a little sheath of pacova leaves with a ligature 
that forced the penis inside and covered it entirely. Women were entirely 

Some individuals of both sexes wore narrow woven cotton bands below 
the knees and on the ankles. The use of tight garters four inches ( 10 cm. ) 
wide decorated with small feathers and of bands with long fringes on the 
forearms was restricted to men. Both sexes wrapped thick cotton threads 
around their ankles and wrists. Chiefs adorned their heads with white 
tufts. To make diadems, feathers were sometimes interwoven in a cotton 
fabric. On the forehead stood five long macaw tail feathers, with two 
shorter hawk feathers on each side and yellow japu feathers beyond. Men 
carried a kind of scepter made of six macaw tail feathers with their bases 
covered with down. 

Both sexes had their ears pierced for the insertion of peccary teeth, 
small wooden pegs, or feathers. They seem to have inserted feathers 
through the nasal septum. Men wore long necklaces strung with the 
teeth of cutia and other small animals. Chiefs used a large, shiny, white 


collar of shell and large belts of black beads and human teeth. Women's 
necklaces were made of tucum nuts ground into shape on a stone and 
perforated with a fish tooth, and interspersed with human teeth, which 
were their husbands' war trophies. Some men wore belts of animal teeth ; 
others, belts woven of cotton and dyed with urucii, with tassels at both 
ends. These tassels were tied together and hung over the genitals. 

Men cut their hair along the forehead and above the ears. Women 
wrapped their hair with a cotton fillet so that it formed a horizontal tuft. 
They did not pluck their eyebrows or eyelashes. 

Men were tattooed by women who used tucum thorns. The pattern 
consisted of three lines extending from each ear, one to a little below the 
nose, one to a corner of the mouth, one to the chin. At the age of 14, the 
tattooing was completed with a rectangle around the mouth, a symbol 
indicating that the wearer could eat human flesh. The designs tattooed 
on the body are said to have illustrated their war and hunting deeds. 
According to Florence, these included parallel right angles on their chest 
and abdomen, and crude representations of animals, fish, men, and women 
on their arms and legs. A young man had the figure of a jaguar ( ?) on 
his right arm and a man on his left. The women's tattooing was done 
after marriage, and consisted only of a rectangle on the chin, with a band 
running to the ears. 

The Apiacd smeared their body with urucii mixed with babassu oil. 
Some people painted the lower part of the body with genipa; others 
painted only the arms. A common motif was a line from the hair to the 
tip of the nose. Women painted their legs and hips with vertical stripes 
and rows of dots between the lines. 


Settlements were connected by paths, though in "Nova NavegaQao" 
(Anonymous, 1856) it is stated that only water ways were used. Canoes 
were made of a large piece of jatoba (Hymenaea sp.) bark held open by 
crosspieces and having at each end a fold tied with cipo creepers. Such 
craft could carry up to 38 persons. They were propelled with thick 
bamboos split in half and about 6 feet (2m.) long. The Indians paddled 
standing. The Apiacd were the best pilots for the rapids of the Tapajoz 

Loads were carried overland in conical baskets about 60 to 70 cm. 
(24 to 28 in.) high. 


Basketry. — The Apiacd used strips of creeper to weave baskets, trays, 
sieves, and hourglass-shaped supports for vessels, the last similar to those 
of the Uaupes River region (p. 776). 



Ceramics. — The ceramic ware consisted of pots, pans, and dishes. 
Some vessels had a biconical shape and were decorated with series of 
parallel right angles on the upper part. 

Weaving. — The Apiacd wove hammocks, armbands, and flour bags, 
but there is no description of the loom. 

Weapons. — Apiacd bows had a flat belly, a rounded back, and shoulders 
cut to hold the string. Arrow feathering was of the arched tangen- 
tial and radial tied types. The point of an arrow in one of Florence's 
prints has three pairs of powerful barbs. Three Indians portrayed by 
Florence carry spears from 5 feet to 5 feet 4 inches (1.5 to 1.6 m.) long 
with bamboo points 8 inches (20 cm.) long and 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm.) 
wide. A long tuft hangs just below the point. Two such spears, used 
apparently for some ceremonial purpose, are covered from the head to 
within 16 inches (40 cm.) of the butt, with short feathers arranged in 
blue, red, black, and yellow bands. 

War clubs were short. The use of the macana, indicated by Martius 
(1867, 1:203), is doubtful. 


The Apiacd lived in communal huts (malocas), each constituting a 
settlement with one or more chiefs. The population of these huts was 
not stable, however, for a man might at will join any settlement within 
the tribe. According to "Nova Navegagao" (Anonymous, 1856, p. 103), 
the chief bore the title of procro, an obviously truncated word. Under 
normal conditions, he exercised his office unobtrusively, since perfect 
equality reigned among all. But when foreigners arrived and in war time, 
he assumed great authority. His importance is evidenced not only by his 
distinctive ornaments (feather diadem, shell pendant, belt), but also by 
the inaugural ceremony which accompanied his taking of office. The 
chief of the nearest settlement made him sit in the hammock of his 
deceased predecessor, and presented him with a ceremonial lance and a 
feather diadem, amidst songs and dances. The office was transmitted 
from father to son, or, if there were no direct heir, to the nearest relative. 
Chiefs alone could have as many as three wives. 

The Apiacd showed kindness to one another and never struck a person, 
even in fun. Homicide was an unpardonable crime. The greatest punish- 
ment which an Apiacd could inflict upon an offender was to taunt him 
publicly with his faults. The guilty and even his kin felt extremely 
humiliated and debased. 

According to Florence, crops were planted and harvested in common. 
There was cooperation in hunting and in fishing, wherein canoes, traps, 
and other devices were used. Only weapons and ornaments were private 


The Apiacd were hospitable, though they received unknown visitors 
with furious shouting and warhke demonstrations. The chief, with all 
his ornaments, advanced toward the visitor and ordered him to lie down. 
This done, he dragged him out of the canoe, gave him a hammock in the 
hut, and offered him chicha. Then they introduced their wives and 
children to their guests. They gave supplies and feather ornaments to 
their European visitors, asking for iron tools in return. Although per- 
fectly honest among themselves, their eagerness to get iron tools caused 
them to steal from the Whites as early as 1819. They would even break 
up supply boxes to remove the nails. 


Childbirth. — After childbirth, the mother was confined for only a day. 
Children were brought up in an environment of love. 

Puberty. — During menstruation women frequently took cold baths in 
the house, and they lined their hammocks with leaves of sororoca. 

Marriage. — The Apiacd married at the age of 14. The bride was given 
publicly to the groom ; chiefs' weddings were celebrated by a feast. 
Monogamy prevailed, though secret polygyny is mentioned by Castelnau 
and Coudreau. Chiefs were entitled to several wives. Divorce was easy 
and was often followed by remarriage. This, however, caused deep resent- 
ment in the families concerned. Some unions are said to have been lasting. 
In case of divorce, the children were allotted to the father. 

The sexual act was surrounded with secrecy, but not when visitors were 
given women in exchange for tools. 

Death. — A person was buried in his own house under his hammock 
amidst cries and fearful shouts. He was placed in a squatting position 
in a shallow grave, the head only 8 inches (20 cm.) under the ground 
level. Soil was piled about 16 inches (40 cm.) high over the grave. A 
widow or widower would lie in his hammock over the grave, his face 
painted black and his hair closely cropped, eating only a maize mush until 
the exhumation of the bones which, according to the "Nova Navegacao" 
(Anonymous, 1856), occurred only after a year had elapsed. The bad 
smell emanating from the tomb was endured as a courtesy to the dead. 
With tears and praise of the deceased, female relatives unearthed his 
remains, carefully handing them to tearful assistants who placed them 
in a basket. The basket was then wrapped in a new hammock and hung 
from the house rafters in front of the place where the deceased lived. 
After the hammock had rotted away, the bones were buried again in the 
grave from which they had been removed. From then on, the dead was 


It seems that the Apiacd were at war with all their neighbors. Until 
the end of the past century, their worst enemies were the Tapanyuna on 
the right side of the Arinos River and later on the upper Tapajoz River. 
They fought with them whenever they went to the Rio do Peixe to get 
material for making stone axes. On the Juruena River, their enemies 
were the Namhicuara. To the north, below the confluence of the Arinos 
and Juruena Rivers, their enemies were the CazvaJiib ( Cabahihn) , whom 
they had driven to the interior of the jungle and to whom they referred 
since 1819 as the inhabitants of the Para-Mutanga (parana-mitan, "Red 
River," or Sangue River) , a tributary of the Juruena River. Other hostile 
tribes mentioned by Castelnau (1850-59) were the Mufonihiien (Mato- 
nawi (?) to the northwest, in the Aripana River Basin) and the Sitihuava 
( ?). By 1848, the Apiacd were on the defensive against the Tapanyuna 
and the Nambicnara. Early sources recount no hostilities between the 
Mundurucu and the Apiacd, but the former told Gongalves Tocantins in 
1875 that they had been warring against the Apiacd since before 1789. 
Tocantins (1877) also says that the Mundurucu pursued the Apiacd in 
the middle of the last century', forcing the latter to move to Salto Augusto. 
These data are quite uncertain. 

The Apiacd waged war not for material gains but only to avenge past 
affronts, the memory of which the old folks kept alive in their tales. The 
people would ask the chief for war, and he would take the necessary steps. 
Formerly, the Apiacd would march every year with 200 to 300 warriors 
against some tribe. 

The Apiacd set out on war expeditions after harvest but only if their 
shamans predicted a favorable outcome. Upon the chief's request, 
neighboring villages always gave their cooperation. Each warrior took 
his own supplies, and extra supplies were carried in case of need. The 
chief carried his lance, and two aides carried his bow and arrows. During 
the campaign, the chief held the title of "sata" (? tata, "fire"), and 
everyone obeyed him. He gave the signal for camping and made the 
fire (by friction ?), from which others took their firebrands. After bathing 
and eating, he gave the signal for setting up the hammocks and retiring. 
Trusting in their scouts who had explored the region during the day, 
the warriors slept without sentries. Next day, to allow the scouts time 
to get a head start and to hunt, the men bathed and resumed the march 
when the sun was high. Toward the evening, the column joined the 
scouts, who reported what they had seen and gave the chief the product 
of their hunt. 

The Apiacd preferred to wage war by ambuscade, but if they came 
unexpectedly in contact with the enemy they fought bravely. 

It is well established that the Apiacd practiced cannibalism, even as 
late as 1848. They quartered the bodies of those killed in battle, ir- 


respective of sex, and roasted them. The prisoners led to the village 
were eaten with elaborate ceremony by all the people of the village. The 
children were captured and brought up together with the tribe's own 
children. At the age of 12 or 14, the young captives were sacrificed 
ceremonially within the circle of the gathered tribe. The children's foster 
fathers broke their skulls by striking them behind with a club. The bodies 
were roasted and eaten during an all-night feast. The Apiaca were 
unwilHng to sell the captive children at any price ("Nova Navegagao," 
Anonymous, 1856, p. 100). Castelnau (1850-59) states that a young 
woman prisoner might be spared for 4 or 5 years before she was sacrificed. 
He also says that only boys having a rectangle tattooed around the mouth 
at puberty were permitted to eat human flesh. The boys were urged 
to partake of the flesh that it might instill in them a spirit of courage. 


The musical instruments mentioned in our sources are drums, rattles, 
and bamboo trumpets "emitting unharmonious sounds." 

Dancers formed two concentric circles, the inner consisting of men 
who held a bamboo trumpet in one hand and rested the other on their 
neighbor's shoulder. They turned to the right and to the left alternately. 
The women formed another circle on the outside, holding hands and stick- 
ing their heads under the left arms of the men and accompanying the 
dance by hopping. A similar dance is performed by the Parintintin of 
the Madeira River, 


According to Castelnau (1850-59) and Guimaraes (1865), the Apiaca 
believed in a god who was Creator of the sky and of the earth and ex- 
pressed his wrath by thunder and lightning. They worship him inwardly 
and pray to him. In the "Nova Navegaqao" (Anonymous, 1856), the 
name of the Apiaca god is given as Bahyra. This corresponds to the 
Parintintin culture hero, Bahira (Nunes Pereira, 1940), and the Tupi- 
namba- Maira. 

Shamans foretold the future and treated sick people. In order to 
learn about the outcome of a war expedition, the shaman fell into a 
deathlike trance, during which he spoke with spirits. Upon regaining 
his senses about midnight, he began to sing and prophesy. People had 
great respect for him but paid only for his cures. To cure, he blew 
on the patient and sucked on the affected parts, then washed him with 
decoctions of crushed herbs which were poured through a sieve. He 
cured colds by causing the patient to sweat over a fire built around 
and under his hammock. Cures were undertaken simultaneously by two 
shamans, who agreed upon the procedure. The treatment always lasted 
3 days — 2 days for blowing and sucking and 1 for bathing. The shamans 


never returned to see the patient after the treatment, regardless of its 
results. As pay, they received the best personal possessions of their client. 
For the treatment of injuries by sucking and application of crushed herbs, 
the payment was always lower than for the cure of internal ills. It was 
with the treatment of wounds that novices were initiated into the medical 
side of their profession. 


See Cawahib, Parintintin, and Their Neighbors, bibliography, page 297. 


By Claude Levi-Strauss 


The Xingu River was known south only as far as lat. 4° 5' 11" S. 
through the expedition of Prince Adalbert of Prussia in 1843. When 
Karl von den Steinen descended it for the first time in 1884, its upper 
course, the region inland, and the numerous tribes inhabiting the area 
were entirely unknown. Von den Steinen descended the Batovi River, 
a branch of the Xingu River, and discovered the Northern Bacdiri, 
Custenau, Waura, and, on the Xingu River, the Suya and Manitsaua. 
During a second expedition in 1887, he traveled down the Culiseu River, 
also a branch of the Xingu River, and saw the Nahukwa, Mehinacu, 
Aueto, Yaulapiti, Trwmai, and Camayura. 

Hermann Meyer made an expedition in 1896 to the Culiseu and Ja- 
toba Rivers, and another in 1889, mainly to explore the Ronuro River. 
In 1900-1901, Max Schmidt traveled to the Culiseu River. Later, 
Hintermann (in 1924-25), Dyott (in 1928), Petrullo (in 1931), and 
Buell Quain (in 1938) studied the upper Xingii River region. 

The upper Xingu tributaries form an elaborate comblike system of 
waterways, about 150 miles (240 km.) wide. After running most of 
their course parallel to one another, the streams join at about lat. 12° S. 
to form the Xingu River. The confluent branches are, from west to 
east, the Steinen (Ferro), Ronuro, Jatoba, Batovi (Tamitoala, Culiseu 
(Kulisehu), and Culuene Rivers. 

Along their upper courses, the rivers are bordered by continuous strips 
of gallery forest which hardly screen the savanna of the hinterland. Along 
their middle and lower courses, the forest widens, and lagoons and marshes 
form dead-water channels which permit communication with the secondary 
streams. Several tribes live close to one another near the rivers. The 
more important settlements lie between the Culiseu and Culuene Rivers, 
in the eastern part of the basin. Few inhabitants dwell along the 
western rivers. 

The native population of the Xingu area is numerous and extremely 
varied. The tribes belong to all the chief Brazilian linguistic families, 
but there is no correlation between the linguistic provinces and geo- 



graphical divisions. The Hnguistic boundaries are difficult to determine 
because they freely overlap, crossing valleys and watersheds. 

The location of the tribes of the upper Xingu River may be sketched 
as follows (map 1, No. 1 ; see Volume 1, map 7.) : 

(1) Cariban tribes. — Only the eastern portion of a formerly important 
nucleus of Cariban tribes south of the Amazon River falls within this 
area. It extended west to the Tapajoz Basin, where it is now represented 
by the Bacdiri of the Novo and Parantinga Rivers (lat. 14° S., long. 
56° W.). In the south it reached the neighborhood of Cuiaba. The 
Carib of the upper Xingu Basin include: (a) The Bacdiri of the Batovi 
River (4 villages in Von den Steinen's time) ; {b) the Bacdiri of the 
Culiseu River (3 villages) ; and (c) the Nahukwa {Nahuqua, Anauqua), 
on the right bank of the Culiseu River (lat. 13° S., long. 53° W.). Be- 
tween the Culiseu and Culuene Rivers, there were numerous villages, 
whose inhabitants Von den Steinen called Nahukwa, though they bear dis- 
tinct names, among which Guicuru (Cuicutl) and Apalakiri (Calapalo) are 
mentioned most frequently (lat. 12° S., long. 53° W.). A careful census 
of the villages between the Culiseu and Culuene Rivers was made by 
Hermann Meyer, who recorded no less than 15 different groups. In 
Von den Steinen's time, the Mariape-Nahukwa were the northern repre- 
sentatives of the Cariban family. The Bacdiri language differs in im- 
portant features from that of the Nahukwa. The latter includes sev- 
eral dialects distinguished by phonetics rather than by semantics or 

(2) Arawakan tribes. — The Arawakan linguistic family, named Nu- 
Aruak by Von den Steinen, occurs mostly in the country between the 
Culiseu and Batovi Rivers, even crossing the lower course of the latter 
toward the Ronuro River. Arawakan tribes live north to the Bacdiri 
of the Batovi River, northwest of the Bacdiri of the Culiseu River, and 
east of the Nahukwa. From the southeast to the northwest, they include 
the Mehinacu (Minaco), on the left bank of the Culiseu River (lat. 13° 
S., long. 54° W.) ; the Yaulapiti (Yawalapiti) , north of the Mehinacu 
(lat. 12° S., long. 54° W.) ; the Custenau (Kustenau) , on the right bank 
of the Batovi River (lat. 12° S., long. 54° W.) ; and the Waura (Aura; 
not to be confused with the Orinoco Delta Warrau), on both banks of 
that river (lat. 12° 30' S., long. 54° W.). All the Arawakan dialects 
of the upper Xingu River are similar. 

(3) Tupian tribes. — In Von den Steinen's time, the Tupian tribes 
occupied a small area on the left bank of the Culiseu River, opposite 
the Nahukwa and close to the Yaulapiti. They include the Aueto {Autl, 
Auiti), lat. 12° 30' S., long. 54° W., the mixed Arauiti (resuhing from 
intermarriages between Aueto and Vaulapiti) to the south, and the Cama- 
yura (Camayula) to the north (lat. 12° S., long. 54° W.). The Manit- 
saua {Mantizula) are also Tupi, but their language includes many ele- 


ments from the Suya (a Ge tribe), on the Xingu River to the north, about 
lat. 11° S., long. 54° W. 

(4) Trumai. — ^This isolated linguistic family was in Von den Steinen's 
time represented by two villages, one on the left bank of the Culiseu 
River between the Aueto and the Yaulapiti, and the other on the right 
bank of the lower Culuene River north of the Mariape-Nahiikwa (lat. 
12° 30' S., long. 54° W.). 

(5) Ge. — The Suya (Tsiiva), who inhabit the Xingii River at about 
lat. 10° 5' S., belong to the Ge linguistic family, as probably do the un- 
known "Cayapo," who are said to live to the east on the headwaters of 
the Culuene River. (See vol. 1, p. 478.) 

The history of the area is not well known. The Bacdiri say that their first home 
was on the headwaters of the Paranatinga and Ronuro Rivers. They moved to the 
great falls of the Paranatinga River, and later to the country between the Ronuro 
and Paranatinga Rivers. After unsuccessful wars against the Cayabi (Cajabi), 
who still occupy the Verde River, they returned to their present dwellings. The 
Suya appear to have moved during the first quarter of the 19th century from the 
Arinos and Verde Rivers to the upper Xingu River. Similar migrations within a 
relatively small area are said to have been made by most of the tribes prior to Von 
den Steinen's visit. 

Since 1887 many changes have occurred in the geographical distribution of the 
different tribes. According to Hermann Meyer's map (Meyer, 1887 b), the southern 
Trumai village had disappeared in 1896, but it is found again on Max Schmidt's 
map made in 1900-1901 and on Petrullo's map made in 1931, though situated farther 
south, between the Mehinacu and the Nahukwa. The northern Trumai village was 
also moved south, across the Culuene River. By 1931, the Arawakan tribes had 
made important shifts. The Waura had abandoned the Batovi River and settled 
halfway between the Yaulapiti and the Mehinacu on the Culiseu River. Thus, the 
general trend is toward tribal intermixture and concentration of population on the 
river banks. The Nahukwa, however, still hold a continuous territory, clearly dis- 
tinct from that of other tribes, along the right bank of the Culuene River. 

In 1896, Hermann Meyer obtained information on the hitherto unknown upper 
course of the Paranaiuba River, a left tributary of the Xingu River. His informants 
named 19 different tribes said to be settled in that area. It appears from small 
vocabularies that the Yaruma speak a Cariban dialect and the Arawine a T-upian 
dialect (Krause, 1936 b). Nothing is known of the others. Meyer's list of the 
Paranaiuba River tribes corresponds, except for a few names, to the lists of tribes 
east of the Culuene River obtained by Petrullo from a Bacdiri and an Apalakiri in- 
formant. These consisted of 10 and 14 names, respectively. An alleged pygmy 
people is called Phot by the Bacairi and Tahulgi by the Apalakiri. Several widely 
separated groups are called Cayapo (Kahaho). 

On the basis of Meyer's map, the whole upper Xingu area, excluding the Para- 
naiuba River, contained 35 villages. This number agrees reasonably well with Von 
den Steinen's estimate of 2,500 to 3,000 inhabitants made in the same region 9 years 
earlier. For more recent times, we possess only partial data. Fawcett counted 
about 150 Bacairi in 1925, and there were approximately 50 persons in the Trmnai 
village where Quain stayed in 1938. Although the population is apparently much 
less numerous now than 50 years ago, the Xingti Basin — probably because of its 
great isolation — did not suffer the same tremendous demographic decline that 
affected other parts of Brazil. 




The economic life of the upper Xingii tribes is somewhat more complex 
than that of other Brazilian Indians, as it is based upon fishing, hunting, 
collecting of wild foods, and agriculture. Activities revolve around differ- 
ent products according to the season. Turtle eggs furnish a basic staple 
during the dry season. Piqui fruits (Caryocar butyrosum) and bitter 
manioc are the main foods during two different parts of the rainy season. 
Fishing is practiced throughout the year. To some tribes, it is the main 
source of food (Petrullo, 1932 a) ; to other tribes, it is the only recourse 
when other products are unavailable (Quain, ms.). Ants, larvae, and 
grubs are eaten; crickets are collected to feed pets. Hunts are usually 
large expeditions in which all the adult men of the village participate; 
they sometimes continue for days. Taboos on game seem to be rare ; it is 
not certain whether squirrels, which the Trumai do not kill, and the sucuri 
(Eunectes murinus) and a certain bird, which are forbidden among the 
Bacdiri (Capistrano de Abreu, 1938), may simply not be killed or whether 
they may be killed but not eaten. 

Fishing. — Fishing is highly organized and is "one of the few examples 
of group cooperation which transcends the immediate family" (Quain, 
ms.). Each tribe possesses the privilege of fishing in well-delimited 
stretches of the rivers and owns fish dams and weirs. Some dams consist 
of fences of posts {Bacdiri), others are made of branches or stones. 
Strangely, the widespread technique of drugging fish (p. 13) and the 
hook were unknown in 1884 (Steinen, 1886). Fishing techniques include 
nets placed across the streams, baskets used mostly in lagoons, and night 
fishing with torches. Basketry traps, made of tucum fibers, are either 
long and narrow or short and wide. Some are conical and open at both 
ends to permit the fish to be removed with the hand. The natives also fish 
from canoes, throwing wild fruits as bait and shooting the fish with bows 
and arrows when they come to the surface. Petrullo describes spear fish- 
ing from the prow of a canoe (pi. 27, bottom), the spear being about 25 
feet (7 m.) long and consisting of a wooden shaft, a foreshaft of reed, and 
a large conical bone point. Quain did not find spear fishing practiced 
among the Camayura, the Nahukwa, or the Trumai; and he considers it 
an individual invention. The fish were usually cleaned before being broiled 
on a pyramidal babracot. 

Farming. — According to Von den Steinen, women planted, weeded 
with the digging stick, and harvested the crops, but men cultivated tobacco. 
Among the Trumai, only men do the planting (Quain, ms.). A Nahukwa 
chief who was seen planting maize (Steinen, 1894) dug holes about 2 or 3 
inches (5 or 8 cm.) deep with a stick and put several kernels in each hole. 
Manioc sprouts are set obliquely in loosened earth, first dug with hoes, 


and then replaced in the trench (Quain, ms.). Gardens are opened in the 
forest by felhng and burning the trees. Orchards of wild fruit trees are 
transplanted near the village or are cultivated in their native habitat. Von 
den Steinen saw avenues of piqui trees leading to a Bacdiri village. The 
Waura had mangabeira (Hancornia speciosa) orchards and the Bacdiri 
used to irrigate wild urucu trees. Bacaiuva palm trees (Acrocomia) and 
frutas de lobo (Solanum lycocarpum) were also cultivated. The best 
gardeners were the Mehinacu (Von den Steinen, 1894). 

The species most frequently found in the area are bitter manioc and 
maize, the former being predominant; two kinds of yams and two kinds 
of beans; cara (Dioscorea), abobora (Cucurbita), mamona (Ricinus) ; a 
small species of peanut; pepper; calabashes (Crescentia) and gourds 
(Lagenaria) , chiefly among the Nahukwa; sweet potatoes, abundant only 
among the Mehinacu; tobacco, flourishing in the gardens of the Stiya and 
Aueto; and cotton, the best quality being grown by the Bacdiri and 
Mehinacu. Other plants are grown for industrial purposes. For instance, 
a sharp lanceolated grass (Scleria), used for shaving the tonsure (p. 327), 
and the uba cane {Gynerium sagittatum) , which provides arrow shafts 
for the Batovi (Steinen, 1894), are grown. The banana and guava 
were wholly unknown in 1887, but in 1938 the Camayura consumed quan- 
tities of the former and the Trumai, of the latter. The foreign origin of 
most of the agricultural terms of the Trumai suggests that they borrowed 
cultivated plants from their neighbors. 

Food storage and preparation.— To store ears of maize, most tribes, 
especially the Bacdiri, Yaulapiti, and Mehinacu, hang them to the roof of 
the hut with their leaves artistically arranged in the shape of birds and 
other animals. The Bacdiri keep maize flour in large cylindrical baskets 
lined with sewed leaves and covered with bark sheets. Among the 
Yaxilapiti; Naravute, a A/'a/«^^wa-speaking group (Petrullo, 1932 a) ; and 
Trumai (Quain, ms.), piqui fruits are boiled and placed in cylindrical bark 
containers about 4^^ to 6^ feet (1.5 to 2. m.) in length, sealed at both 
ends, and placed in a pool of cool water. On ceremonial occasions the 
containers are opened and the beverage is equally distributed. It is mixed 
with water and drunk. Other preparations of the piqui include boiled sap 
(Quain, ms.), rasped and toasted seeds, and a syrup extracted from the 
leaves (Steinen, 1894). 

Game and fish are broiled in the skin, generally on grids of plaited vines. 
The Bacdiri roast several turtle eggs simultaneously on a spindle-shaped 
griddle made of vines (Hintermann, 1926). Several kinds of wild nuts 
are eaten roasted. Although boiling is a woman's task, broiling and roast- 
ing are always done by men (Steinen, 1894). To prepare manioc (pi. 28), 
women grate it on thorns imbedded in wooden planks, but the Camayura 
use an Anodonta shell. The tipiti is entirely unknown ; instead, basketry 
sieves are used to strain ofif the poisonous juice (Steinen, 1894). Flour 



[B.A.B. Bull. 143 

and starch, which are prepared from manioc, are dried on large flat baskets. 
They are cooked and eaten in the form of gruel or of flat cakes (beiju) ; 
slightly toasted on clay slabs. Manioc and piqui gruel are a basic meal 
throughout the area. Quain observed that adult Trumai never drink 
water but only gruel. The Trumai season the manioc gruel with "iriwa," 
a shelled, fibrous, unidentified fruit, and prepare a cottonseed-oil paste 
(Quain, ms.). The Bacdiri dip food in oil before eating it. According to 
PetruUo, salt is unknown, but Von den Steinen mentions salt made from 
bamboo salt, and Quain describes the preparation of water-lily salt, each 
Trumai making his own supply by burning the plant and sifting the ashes. 
Although geophagy is rare. Von den Steinen saw dolls made of edible clay 
being licked by Bacdiri children. 


Villages (fig. 32) are usually established two miles (3 km.) or more 
from the river, with a path leading to the stream. The only exceptions 

Figure 32. — A Bacdiri village. (After Steinen, 1886.) 

were the Suya (in 1884) and the Trumai (in 1887) villages, both built on 
a river bank. Villages visited by Von den Steinen had from 2 to 20 huts 
and from 30 to 200 inhabitants. Dyott saw a Nahukwa village of 7 houses 
arranged in a circle, and Petrullo visited a village where the huts were 
scattered in an irregfular manner. Quain observed a Trumai village with 


5 houses and 43 inhabitants and a Camayura village consisting of 1 1 houses, 
each haystack-shaped, with two clean, straight avenues leaving the village 
at right angles. The avenues of piqui trees of the Bacdiri village have been 
mentioned (p. 325). 

Three types of huts have been observed, the first two of which are rare. 
Von den Steinen (1894) gives a drawing of a Custenau hut with a circular 
ground plan and a huge conical thatched roof erected on a low circular 
lattice wall. Hintermann (1926, p. 251) reproduces a Bacdiri house 
formed by a pointed arch covered with grass and closed at both ends with 
two apses of straw, in which doors were placed. All sources agree on 
the common type of hut (pis. 29; 30, top). According to Petrullo, the 
ground plan is an ellipse, approximately 30 feet ( 10 m.) by 65 feet (20 m.) . 
In the center, about 16 feet (5m.) from each end are three main supporting 
posts (two, and even one, among the Trumai in Quain's description) set 
deep into the ground. 

A ridge pole is lashed on top of the supporting posts, which stand 25 
feet (8 m.) above the ground. A wall, 5 feet (1.5 m.) high, is made of 
posts set 6 inches (15 cm.) apart. To these posts are lashed long thin 
poles, their tops bent inward and lashed together. Heavier short poles 
are lashed at one end to the ridge pole and at the other to the bent poles, 
so as to form a false outer roof. The entire structure is covered with a 
light framework thatched with grass, except for an opening between the 
false roof and the ridge pole, which is left as a smoke hole. The ends 
of the ridge pole project and are thatched decoratively. 

A house is shared by several families, each of which occupies a section 
where it keeps its own fire. Hammocks are hung between the central 
posts and the wall, sometimes in two or three tiers. In the middle of the 
hut stands a platform where food and implements are kept. Two low doors 
are on opposite sides of the ellipse. 

In addition to these communal dwellings, every village has a guest house, 
which Von den Steinen and Petrullo described as poorly built and badly 
kept. In most of these houses two logs running lengthwise provide seats 
for the men of the village. Guest huts are reserved for the entertainment 
of visitors and for ceremonial gatherings. Because dance costumes and 
musical instruments are kept in them, Von den Steinen called them "flute- 


Hairdressing. — All the upper Xingu River Indians are tonsured. The 
Suya shave their foreheads but the tribes of the Culiseu River wear a 
circular tonsure which may be 3 inches (7 cm.) in diameter. Bacdiri men 
sometimes use wooden hair curlers. Women's hair is cut only on the 
forehead, but men's hair is cut all around at the level of the ear lobe (see 
pis. 27, 30). Piranha-fish teeth are used for cutting, and red-hot embers 


for singeing, the hair. The hair is frequently groomed with a composite 
comb, which hangs from the hammock (Culiseu River) or from the 
shoulder (Suya). Plucking all body hair is customary, although Cama- 
yura and Nahukwa men sometimes keep their moustache and beard, and 
Suya men do not pluck pubic hair. 

Mutilation. — All men have their lobes pierced, but only Suya 
women wear large bark plugs in the lower lip. The nasal septum is 
pierced among both sexes of the Bacdiri of the Paranatinga and Batovi 
Rivers and of the first village on the Culiseu River, but only among men 
in the second village; whereas the custom is completely lacking in the 
third village (Steinen, 1894). Men wear wooden pegs and women stone 
spindles in the nasal septum. 

Body ornaments. — Smearing the hair and the body with urucii and 
oil paste is general. Sometimes dots and straight wavy, and zigzag lines 
are painted on the face or body. True tattooing exists only among the 
Arazvakan tribes, whose men and women use semicircular and lozenge 
patterns traced with soot and taruma (Verbenaceae) juice. All tribes 
have scratches on the arms or elsewhere, made for medical treatment. 
Among the Trumai a nonceremonial hygienic scarification is frequently 
performed by adults. 

All men slip their penis up under the belt, except the Trumai, who 
formerly tied only the prepuce with a cotton thread and now let it hang 
free. Suya women go naked, and Trumai women formerly used a supple 
belt of fiber with a perineal band (Steinen, 1894) but have now abandoned 
it (Quain, ms.). All other women of the upper Xingu River wear the 
"uluri," — a piece of straw folded in the shape of a triangle, to two corners 
of which strings are attached to tie around the waist, with the third corner 
hanging down and held to the back of the belt by a perineal string passing 
between the legs (fig. 33). 

Ornaments. — Bacdiri and Nahukwa men use armlets and anklets of 
straw or woven cotton, and Bacdiri men put feathers in their ear lobes. 
Headdresses are fashioned of skin, feathers, and fur diadems (especially 
rich among the Camayura and Suya), feathered circlets, and plaited osiers 
in cylindrical or star shapes {Nahukwa) . The Camayura wear hair nets 
or caps trimmed with feathers or tufts of human hair. Necklaces are worn 
by the more developed tribes. They are made of shell {Bulimus and 
Orthalicus melanostomus) and nut beads among the southern tribes 
(Bacdiri and Nahukwa), and of stone beads among the northern tribes 
(Yaulapiti, Trumai). The cylindrical, circular, spherical, and pear-shaped 
(Mehinacu, Aueto) stone beads were copied in clay and rosin in the south. 
In 1887, horn, bone, and teeth beads were used particularly by the Yaula- 
piti and the Mehinacu. The Trumai and Aueto have necklaces of jaguar 
claws. The Yaruma were said to use earrings having a metallic sound 
(Steinen, 1894). More recently, Dyott (1930, p. 223) noticed elaborate 



Figure 33. — Bacairi pubic covering. (Redrawn from Steinen, 1894, fig. 18.) 

stone ornaments among the Nahukwa, such as a Maltese cross made of 
diorite, similar to those worn in the 18th century by the Paressi. 


Fishing and intertribal trade make the rivers important communication 
routes (pi. 27), The upper Xingu canoes, which may be 25 feet (8m.) 
or more in length, are made of the bark (pi. 32) of the jatoba tree 
(Hymenaea sp.). A suitable tree is found, and a light frame on which to 
stand is built against the trunk. A long rectangular piece of bark is 
stripped off and carefully placed on low trestles above a fire. When the 
heat has softened the bark, the edges are bent upward and the prow is 
given a pointed shape, while the stern is bent toward the inside. The 
Yaulapiti curl the edges toward the inside. Holes and cracks are filled 
with wax and clay. One day's work will make a canoe which can be 
launched the next morning. When the canoe is completed, several men 
carry it to the river on their shoulders, protected by a cushion of fiber 
or bark. 

Paddles are cut from solid wood and have a long rectangular blade and 
shaft, the upper part of which is often carved in the shape of a transverse 



[B.A.B. Bull. 143 

handle. Decorative designs are sometimes carved or painted on the blade 
(fig. 34, a). 
Small streams are crossed on tree trunks. 


Raw materials. — Stone, teeth, bone, shells, and feathers are used for 
manufacturing. Stone, however, is rare, only one quarry, worked by the 
Trumai, being known to Von den Steinen. On the Xingu River, how- 

Sa cm. 

Figure 34. — Upper Xingu artifacts, a, Bacdiri canoe paddle; h, Mehinacu flute; 
c, spear thrower; d, Trumai stone ax; e, Bacdiri digging stick; /, hafted drill; 
g, h, Nahukiva bull roarers in fish form. (Redrawn from Steinen, 1894, figs. 29, 
40, 28, 20, 76, 21, 122.) 


ever, the Siiya had their own stone quarry, and fashioned stone axes. The 
lower jaw of the piranha fish is used for sawing; and a front tooth of the 
cynodon fish for tattooing, carvdng, and piercing. The teeth of the traira 
fish (Erythrinus) and of the aguti (Dasyprocta aguti) serve as scrapers; 
those of the capivara {Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) , as graters. Monkey 
teeth decorate necklaces and belts. The long bones of monkeys and the 
spikes on skate tails are made into arrow points. Femur bones of deer and 
jaguars are used as ear borers. Bones also serve to polish wax or rosin 
surfaces. Jaguar claws and fish vertebrae are often strung on necklaces. 
Shells are widely used for cutting, rasping, planing, and polishing; the 
cutting edge is either the external rim or the edge of an irregular hole 
pierced in the center. A shell is usually tied to a cotton thread and 
carried slung around the neck to be used as a pry for opening nuts. 
Feathers are used to ornament the ears, head, and arms, and to feather 

Spinning. — Fibers of wild pineapple (Bromeliaceae), tucum palm, 
burity palm (Mauritia flexuosa), and cotton are prepared by women, who 
twist the thread on their thighs, previously smeared with white clay, and 
spin it on a drop spindle. The round whorl is made of tortoise shell or 
wood and is elaborately carved. Among the Bacalri, the whorl, made of 
wood, a potsherd, or raw clay, is not decorated. 

Netting and weaving. — Fishing nets, carrying nets, and hammocks 
are netted by women, with a wooden needle. 

The Bacdiri have twined hammocks of cotton thread, whereas the 
.^mwa^aw-speaking tribes make smaller woven hammocks with buriti 
fiber and cotton. The Aiicto hammock is woven with a tucum-fiber warp 
filled with a dense cotton weft disposed in bands alternately white and dark 
blue. In 1887, the use of the hammock was adopted by the Snya, who 
formerly slept on platforms covered with leaves. Sieves of woven cotton 
are also made for straining manioc. For weaving cotton armlets, women 
use a crude loom, made of two low posts fixed in the ground around which 
a continuous warp is passed. 

Basketry. — Basket making is a man's task. Basketry materials are 
palm leaves, bamboo strips, and vines. The most common techniques are 
checker, twilled, hexagonal, and open hexagonal weaves. Forms include 
large flat baskets {Aticto, Mchinacu), storage baskets {Bacdiri), and 
narrow, hollow carrying baskets of open hexagonal mesh (Trumai, 
Schmidt, 1905; and Bacdiri, Hintermann, 1926). The natives also make 
improvised rucksacks and carrying baskets by weaving and knotting two 
or three freshly cut palm leaves. Small mats used for seats (Petrullo, 
1932 a) and to wrap up feathers (Steinen, 1894) are made of bamboo 
sticks twined with a cotton string and decorated with designs. Square 
sieves for straining manioc and square and triangular fire fans are also 
made. In most basketry, part of the material is dyed black, giving diversi- 




C (J -'•^• 

Figure 35. — Upper Xingii wooden spindle whorls, a, Mehinacu; h, c, Camayura; 
d, Aueto. (Redrawn from Steinen, 1894, figs. 55, 56, 59, 58.) 

fied bicolor patterns (Schmidt, 1905). Dance costumes and Bacdiri cylin- 
drical basketry headdresses are elaborately woven of straw. 

Containers. — The bark containers for piqui and the bark-covered 
baskets for flour have already been described. Numerous kinds of con- 
tainers, such as spoons, bowls, pots, and boxes, are made of gourds and 
calabashes. The inside of the calabash is varnished with buriti soot mixed 
with scrapings of rosinous bark ; the outside is often carved, pyrograved, 
or painted with geometric designs. Broken calabashes are repaired by 
sewing the ends together. 

Pottery. — Von den Steinen's statement, so widely commented upon, 
that the Araivakan-spadking tribes were the only ceramists in all the upper 
Xingu area was probably true as recently as 1938, when Quain noticed 
that all the pots owned by the Trumai came from the Waura. Three main 
types must be distinguished : ( 1 ) Large manioc-flour containers with flat- 
tened bottom and bell-shaped rim (pis. 28; 31, bottom), encountered 
among the Mehinacu and the Waura; (2) round cooking pots, already 
scarce in 1887; and (3) hemispherical bowls about 4 to 8 inches (10 to 

Vol. 3] 



20 cm.) in diameter, with a blackened inner surface, an indented rim, and 
often a modeled, stylized zoomorphic shape representing various animals 


3 V j- in. 

Figure 36. — Pottery of the upper Xingii River. (Redrawn from Steinen, 1894, 

pis. 23 and 24.) 

(fig. 36) . The last type is most frequently found among the Aueto, Cama- 
yura, Trumai, and Nahukwa, and is perhaps made by Arawak women who 
married into these tribes. Earthenware is made only by women and is 
baked in an open fire. 

Wooden artifacts. — Carved zoomorphic benches, used throughout the 
upper Xingu area and everywhere called by the Tupi name, "apiika(p)," 
have a rectangular, slightly shallow seat supported by two side planks 
(fig. Z7, a, b), whose lower edges extend forward and backward to give 
added support. Many of the seats are carved in the shape of a bird; a 
few represent quadrupeds (fig. 37, c, d) and are provided with four feet 
instead of the two side planks. Benches have mainly a ceremonial use 
and are offered to guests and dignitaries (Steinen, 1886, 1894). The 
Naraviite use only bark benches (Petrullo, 1932 a) . 

Miscellaneous implements. — Stone axes are generally of diabase, 
round or ellipsoidal in cross section, and about 4 to 8 inches ( 10 to 20 cm.) 
in length. They are polished on natural rocks. The head is glued into 
a wooden handle which is shaped like a square club with a short shaft 


shift al'/fl,""'!!'' ^1'- ''■ ^^ ''""'' °' ^'""^ P-"'= -' - -ch end of a 
sliaft and fastened wth wax and cotton thread. Sand was used in drilhn^ 

Gravers are made of a capivara tooth tied tangentially to a han^ '' 


gum fieilrrs '„'■/' T '°™'"'* ""' *°°'' «S"=''. ". *. J^'^'"""™ 


Farming implements include digging sticks (fig. 34, e), those used 
by the Mehinacu having a carved handle, and hoes made by attaching the 
claw of a great armadillo (Priodontes giganteus) to a stick. 

Shovels for turning cakes (beiju) during cooking are half-moon-shaped, 
with or without an elaborately carved zoomorphic handle, and often have 
geometric designs painted on the blade. 

Combs are always composite ; those of the Nalmkzva and Mehinacu 
have tips carved with zoomorphic figures. Scrapers consist of triangular 
pieces of calabash imbedded with teeth. 

Fire is produced with the drill and bark timber. 

Weapons. — Bows and arrows are the only weapons found everywhere. 
Arrow poison and the blowgun are wholly unknown, although Quain saw 
the blow gun used as a child's toy among the Trumai. 

Bows are about 63^2 feet (2 m.) long; those of greatest length (8^ feet 
or 2.6 m.) are found among the Naravute and the shortest among the 
Waura. The cross section is generally round, sometimes oval, and occa- 
sionally flat (Max Schmidt, 1905; Petrullo, 1932 a). Bows are made 
of aratazeiro (Anonaceae) or of pau d'arco (Tecoma). The Tupian- 
speaking tribes are the only ones who sometimes make bows of palm wood 
and who decorate them by wrapping the center with cotton. The string 
is made of twisted tucum fiber. Among the semicivilized Bacdiri of the 
Paranatinga River, Von den Steinen noticed that bows and arrows were 
smaller than elsewhere. 

Arrows, 5 feet (1.5 m.) or more in length, are made of uba cane or 
camayuva wood, with a thinner foreshaft. The point may be barbed 
with teeth, with the mandibular sting of the great anteater, with the spike 
of a skate's tail, or with a tubular monkey bone or a two-pronged bone 
fragment tied laterally to the foreshaft. Arrows with a barbed point are 
used only for fishing. Those with a point made of a large splinter of 
bamboo fastened to the foreshaft in such a way that the point will slip 
off the shaft or break oflf and remain in the wound are widely used in war- 
fare. The Triimai and Suya employ such a point for hunting the jaguar. 
Von den Steinen described whistling arrows for bird hunting, made with a 
pierced tucuma nut slipped over the shaft ; but those collected by Petrullo 
have the whistling nut in place of a point, and are used only for sport. 

Two halves of feathers spirally twisted and sewed to the shaft are 
widely called "Xingu feathering." There is often a philodendron wrap- 
ping at both ends, plain among the Camayura and intricate among the 
Trumai. All tribes use the primary release and direct shooting for short 
distances, indirect or elevated for more distant targets. 

The fishing spear of the Naravute has already been described. 

The spear thrower, or atlatl (fig. 34, f ) was known only to the Cama- 
yura, Aueto, and Trumai, but none used it as a true weapon. Although 
spear throwers were more numerous than bows in Von den Steinen's time 


and perhaps were formerly employed in warfare, they are used now only 
in sportive ceremonies (p. 347). The upper Xingu spear thrower is 
about 2^ feet (70 cm.) long and consists of a cylindrical palm-wood shaft, 
one end carved in the shape of a flattened handle, which is grooved on 
each side and has a finger hole, and the other end having a hook fastened 
on it. The spear is of uba cane without feathering or with small, non- 
spiraled feathers. The wooden or stone point is set on the shaft. It is 
either blunt (spherical, conical, pear-shaped, or cylindrical) or else sharp 
(knob-shaped, two-pronged, or flattened). A whistling nut is sometimes 
slipped over the shaft. 

The Suya have clubs with a flattened oval head and a short shaft; 
these are made of siriva palm, a tree of the Cocus family. Trumai clubs 
are of the same type but smaller and cruder. Both the Trumai and Cania- 
yura use even smaller clubs for ceremonial dances. 


Information on social and political organization is extremely scarce. 
Von den Steinen stated that there were several chiefs ; Petrullo, that each 
house has its headman ; and Quain, that the Trumai chief was assisted by 
two vice-chiefs, who rule in his absence, and by helpers or servants. 
Chieftaincy was transmitted from father to son, or, if there were no son, 
to the sister's son or the daughter's husband (Steinen, 1894). In 1938, the 
Trumai chief was the son of the daughter of the chief whom Von den 
Steinen had met 50 years .before. All sources agree that the power of 
the chiefs is limited. The Trumai chief, for instance, is not the only 
medicine man of the group. He does no work and has no garden of his 
own. His main function is to assign work to men and women and to 
organize collective gangs for fishing, hunting, and tilling the soil, Petrullo 
described the exhortation pronounced by the headmen each morning 
followed by communal bathing in the river. 

A division of the members of the group into "elders" and "youths" 
seems to exist among the Trumai. A sib organization is only vaguely 
suggested by our sources, except in the case of the ATa/zM^waw-speaking 
villages, each of which has its own name and territory. 

The Bacdiri are matronymic, and authority inside the family belongs 
to the maternal uncle. A distinction between the elder brother and the 
younger brother, the name for the latter being also used for cousin, seems 
to be made in all the kinship systems of the area (Steinen, 1894). Among 
the Trumai, residence is patrilocal, and marriage is forbidden between true 
cousins and some types of classificatory cousins and with the sister's 
daughter. The latter is permitted among the Camayura, who otherwise 
have the same kinship system as the Trumai (Quain, ms.). Among both 
groups there is a joking relationship between cross-cousins, and an avoid- 


ance and shame relationship between brothers-in-law. Some undefined 
kinship relations imply homosexual relations (Quain, ms.). Nothing is 
known of the kinship systems of the other groups, but marriages between 
natives belonging to different generations among the tribes on the Parana- 
tinga and the Culiseu River (Steinen, 1894) and the fact that Von den 
Steinen was called "younger brother" by the Bacdiri and "maternal uncle" 
by the Mehinacu are strong indications that kinship systems might not be 
identical throughout the area. 


Birth. — Sexual intercourse is forbidden among the Trumai during the 
last months of pregnancy and until the child can walk (Quain, ms.). 
Abortion is often practiced, either by manipulating the abdomen or by 
drinking magic medicines. Women give birth in a sitting position (Quain, 
1894) or crouching and grasping a pole (Steinen, 1894), Trumai men 
attend each parturition and smoke tobacco (Quain, ms.). The couvade 
consists of social and dietary prohibitions accompanied by ceremonial 
blowing on the baby's body (Steinen, 1894). 

The child is given magical drinks to ensure its being strong (Quain, 
ms.). Its father gives it a name different from his own. A prohibition 
on the use of personal names seems to have been widespread. Among the 
Bacdiri it is more strict for women than for men. Personal names can 
be changed several times; an exchange of personal names establishes a 
special tie of friendship between adults (Aueto and Mehinacu) (Steinen, 

Puberty. — The initiation ceremony for Trumai boys includes scarifying 
the body with a fish-tooth instrument and rubbing the arms with the claw 
of the great armadillo. Whenever possible, the boy is given an oppor- 
tunity to wrestle with a boa (Quain, ms.). During her first menstrual 
period, a girl is isolated ; while tobacco is blown on her, her body is scari- 
fied; and she is forbidden to eat (Steinen, 1894). Her ears are pierced 
and her hair is cut and turned down over her face. During her subsequent 
menstrual periods, a girl is not isolated; but she is forbidden to have 
sexual intercourse, to do any cooking, or to eat anything but manioc 
(Quain, ms.) . Leaves are used as an absorbent. 

Infant betrothal was observed among the Trumai (Quain, ms.) and 
Bacdiri (Steinen, 1894). The marriage ceremony of the Trumai is 
merely the presentation and acceptance of a hammock and other gifts 
(Quain, ms.). A fishing expedition seems to be connected with the mar- 
riage feast. Among the Bacdiri there is no ceremony, but the bride's 
father receives an ax and arrows from the groom and his help in farming 
(Steinen, 1894) . The only form of polygyny practiced among the Trumai 
is sororal. Adulterous relations between a husband and his wife's sisters 
are not infrequent. Among other tribes on the Culiseu River, a man may 


simultaneously marry both a mother and her daughter (Quain, ms.). The 
levirate and some form of fraternal polyandry probably are practiced by 
the Trumai. The behavior of Trumai women suggests the fear of rape. 
When adultery is committed, the husband beats his wife, who seeks the 
protection of her mother. He stands in the center of the village and 
accuses her lover. Either spouse may bring about divorce (Quain, ms.). 
Death. — Trumai behavior faintly suggests that a stigma attaches to 
old age. All the tribes of the upper Xingu area bury their dead in a 
recumbent position with the head toward the east, except the Suya, who 
practice a crouched burial. Trumai corpses are wrapped in their ham- 
mocks and, with their implements and cooking utensils, interred in the 
village plaza (Quain, ms. ; Steinen, 1894). The Mehinacu cover the 
graves with pebbles and stones; the Aueto (pi. 31, bottom) and the 
Yaulapiti surround each one with a low fence, which, among the Cama- 
yura, forms a square, with two of the opposing sides concave. The 
Camayura break the dead man's implements on the grave and express 
their grief by shaving their hair and fasting (Steinen, 1894). Nothing is 
known about inheritance rules, except that, among the Trumai, the "ole" 
songs are transmitted from the maternal uncle to the sister's son 
(Quain, ms.). 


In social life there is a marked segregation of the sexes. Men have 
their own meetings. Their custom of smoking in the center of the village — 
the "evening group" — has impressed all travelers as a fundamental insti- 
tution of upper Xingu society. Other occupations of Trumai men include 
trade games, the "ole" dance, and wrestling with visitors, the last an 
extremely popular pastime among all groups (Steinen, 1894; Quain, ms.). 
Trade games may last hours, while each man successively offers raw 
materials, art objects, or implements for sale. Trumai women, in con- 
trast to the women of some of the other tribes (pp. 343-344), do not 
frequent the center of the village or participate in dances (Quain, ms.). 

Trumai custom forbids a public display of the natural functions, which 
are performed far from the gardens (Quain, ms.). A Bacdiri never eats 
in public, or else turns his back when eating. Singing in a loud voice 
is disapproved. Disgust is expressed by spitting quickly (Steinen, 1894). 
Most of the formalized etiquette is connected with receiving visitors in 
the guest house, presenting them ceremonial seats, and offering them food 
and tobacco. Ceremonial wailing was noticed among the Bacdiri (Steinen, 
1894), Yaulapiti, and Naravute (PetruUo, 1932 a). 


Although Petrullo emphasizes the homogeneity of material culture, 
wide variations in tribal customs undoubtedly once existed. A semblance 


of homogeneity was produced by intertribal trade; for example, ceramics 
were, and in some instances are now, furnished to the Bacdiri and Na- 
hukwa by the Custenau and Mehinacu, and to the Trmnai and Tupian- 
speaking tribes by the Waura. In Von den Steinen's time, the Bacdiri 
specialized in the production of urucu and cotton, and in the manufacture 
of hammocks, rectangular beads, and other kinds of shell beads. The 
Nahukwa were the best producers of calabash containers, tucuma nut 
beads, and red shell beads. Stone implements were the monopoly of 
the Trumai and Suya; tobacco raising was a specialty of the Suya; and 
the production of salt was, and still is, important among the Trumai and 
Mehinacu. The /^rawa^aw-speaking tribes exchanged their pots for the 
calabashes of the Nahukwa. In 1938, Trumai bows were still made by 
the Camayura (Steinen, 1894; Quain, ms.). 

Industrial specialization was accompanied by a diflference in living 
standards. Von den Steinen was struck by the poverty of the Yaulapiti, 
whose food supply was running low and whose manufactured articles 
were scarce. Such situations could also result from poor crops or from 
an unforeseen enemy attack, as intertribal relations on the upper Xingu 
River were not exactly pacific. 

Each tribe possesses its own territory with well-defined boundaries, 
frequently river banks. Though the rivers themselves are unrestricted, 
the fishing dams which are built at short intervals are tribal property 
and are respected as such. The distrust between neighbors is shown 
in the custom by which visitors build a fire as a warning signal sev- 
eral hours or days before reaching a village (Quain, ms.). Tribes 
designate one another as "good" or "bad," according to the generosity 
they expect or according to the aggressive spirit of their neighbor. When 
Von den Steinen visited the Culiseu River, the Trumai had just been 
attacked by the Suya, who had also captured a large number of prisoners 
from the Manitsaua. The Bacdiri feared the Trumai because of their 
alleged custom of tying up and drowning their war prisoners. In 1887, 
the Trumai were fleeing from the Suya (Steinen, 1894), whom they still 
feared in 1938 (Quain, ms.). These conflicts existed even between 
groups speaking the same language, for instance among the Nahukwa. 
(Steinen, 1894; Quain, ms. ; Dyott, 1930.) 

Although visiting strangers were frequently robbed (Steinen, 1894; 
Quain, ms.), intertribal ties were undoubtedly stronger than rivalries. 
Quain noticed a general multilingualism. Each village always had visitors. 
Commercial travels and trade games, intertribal wrestling matches, and 
reciprocal invitations to feasts offered constant inducements for visits 
(Steinen, 1886, 1894; Quain, ms.). Extremely significant is Quain's 
suggestion that initiation ceremonies were perhaps performed jointly by 
the Mehinacu (Minace) and Trumai. 


Intermarriages resulted from these half-warlike, half-friendly relations. 
In Von den Steinen's time, marriages occurred between the Mehhiacu 
and Nahukwa, the Bacdiri of the Batovi River and the Custenau, and 
between the tribes of the Culiseu River and the Nahukzva. Intertribal 
marriages could even found new groups, like the Arauiti. 


Toys and games. — Bacdiri children play shuttlecock with a maize husk 
topped with a feather. They spin tops made of a fruit impaled on a 
stick with cotton at the lower end to prevent skidding. They also have 
small spear throwers, blowguns, bows and arrows, and zoomorphic toys 
made of woven and twisted straw (fig. 37, e, f, i, j). Woven straw 
dolls have been found among the Mehinacu and dolls of clay and tree 
gum (fig. 37, g, h) throughout the area. 

Trumai adults often wrestle for entertainment (Quain, ms.). The 
solid rubber balls of the Aueto are made by laying latex strips on the 
chest and rolling them into a ball, then piercing it with a small hole, 
and painting it red (Steinen, 1894). 

Plastic art. — Esthetic activities are especially well developed among the 
tribes of the upper Xingii River, who tend to cover all their artifacts 
with painted designs (Steinen, 1894). Painting and drawing are 
stylized, often with purely geometrical patterns, such as checkerboard, 
triangles, lozenges, and parallel lines. But even these elements ,bear 
naturalistic names, e. g., a checkerboard represents a bee swarm, and re- 
current triangles, bats. Quain collected naturalistic drawings among the 
Trumai far superior to the childish sketches published by Von den Steinen. 
The "mereschu" pattern is encountered throughout the area and was called 
after, and said to represent, a small fish of the lagoons (Myletes). It con- 
sists of a lozenge with four blackened angles representing the head, tail, 
and upper and lower fins. The Aueto seem to have brought the Xingu 
style to its highest level of abstraction. A special hut of the Aueto village 
was named by Von den Steinen "the painters' house," not only because 
of its numerous decorations but because it was inhabited mainly by artists. 

House decorations are not rare. A frieze of bark strips (fig. 38) 
blackened with soot and painted with white clay extended along the 
wall of a Bacdiri hut for 185 feet (56 m.). Its decorative themes included 
zigzag lines, dots, circles, lozenges, and triangles, which were said to 
represent several kinds of fish, feminine sex symbols, palm leaves, snakes, 
and bats. The Aueto apply white clay uniformly to house posts and 
then paint designs in black soot over it. 

Other decorated objects include paddles and pancake (beiju) shovels 
(all tribes), canoes and drums {Bacdiri), and calabashes {Bacdiri, Na- 
hiikiva). Tortoise-shell whorls are carved and painted with soot, often 
in a rosette pattern. During ceremonies, they are slung around the neck 

Vol. 3] 




Figure 38. — Bacdiri house wall decorations on bark strips. (Redrawn from Steinen, 

1894, pi. 20.) 

as ornaments (Mehinacu, Aueto, Camayura). Earthenware is painted 
with straight, parallel lines, angles, half-circles, and sometimes with re- 
productions of the tattoo patterns of the Mehinacu. 

Figure 39. — Bacdiri wooden dance pendants. (Redrawn from Steinen, 1894, fig. 48.) 

Many wooden ornaments, implements, and pieces of furniture are 
carved in zoomorphic shapes (p. 333), Shell and stone beads are fre- 
quently retouched to suggest birds or fishes. In a guest house of the 
Mehinacu, Von den Steinen saw two small mounds modeled in the shape 
of a lizard, each about 3 feet (1 m.) long and 3 inches (8 cm.) wide. 
The most remarkable carving of the upper Xingu River is done on trees 
in the forest. The Nahukzva and to a lesser extent other tribes draw 
large effigies of men, women, and animals on trunks of trees, either by 



[B.A.E. Bull. 143 

carving an outline of the figure or by removing the bark from the whole 

Dance costumes and masks. — Costumes of foliage and straw caps 
ornamented with shells or feathers are widely used in dances. Straw 
garments like coveralls, with separate sleeves and legs and huge crinolines 
30 feet (10 m.) in circumference, are worn by the Bacdiri. A two-piece 
straw costume gives the Camayura actor the appearance of a mushroom. 
Cylindrical blocks of wood richly painted with geometric designs (figs. 
39, 40) hang on the back to complete the dance costume (Steinen, 1894). 

Figure 40. — Bacdiri masked dancers. (Redrawn from Steinen, 1894, figs. 98 and 90.) 

South of the Amazon, masks were most highly developed on the 
Upper Xingu River, but are no longer made. They represented animals, 
but were shaped like human faces, the archetype being suggested only 
by a pattern painted in the middle of the face. The "mereschu" design 
was common on all masks. The simplest type of mask might be the 
fishing net that a Nahukzva put on his head (Steinen, 1894). Several 
elaborate types can be distinguished: (1) Zoomorphic headdresses made 
of carved wood, woven straw, painted calabashes, furs, or the dry head 
or skin of some animal. A remarkable headdress of the Bacdiri of the 
Batovi River consisted of seven carved and painted birds mounted on 
sticks to which cotton is glued (Steinen, 1894). (2) Straw masks woven 
in the shape of an oval sieve and either without human features or with 
stylized eyes and nose modeled in wax and attached to the frame (Ba- 
kdiri, Nahukwa, Aueto). (3) Flat, oval straw masks (fig. 42, a, b) with 
a frame of netting or of woven cotton and features made of plastic wax, 
cotton tufts, beans, or shells, lavishly painted {Bacdiri, Aueto, Camayura, 
Trumai). (4) Rectangular wooden masks, often with only the forehead 
and nose carved and an animal pattern painted in place of the mouth 
(figs. 41 ; 42, c-f). This type was found among the Bacdiri, Nahukwa, 
Aueto, and Camayura, and was the only one found among the Mehinacu. 

Vol. 3] 




r4 Ui^m 

*1 "11(41 IMliM 

J fln^lim 



Figure 41. ^Mehinacu and Bacairi masks, a, b, Mehinacu; c, Bacdiri. (Redrawn 
from Steinen, 1894, figs. 103, 102, 94.) 

The lower part of the mask usually bears a beardlike fringe of straw. 
J 'he best carved and painted masks seem to have been made by the 
Mehinacu and Aueto. The Trurnai, who now use no masks, had only 
woven cotton ones, probably borrowed from the Camayum (Quain, ms.). 

Most tribes had "fish" masks and "bird" masks, each probably asso- 
ciated with a dance cycle. Every village possessed its own collection of 
masks; today these are not worshiped and are willingly sold. 

Dances, songs, and music. — Bacairi women are excluded from the 
guest house during "great feasts" but participate in lesser feasts and in 
exclusively feminine festivals (Steinen, 1894) . Except among the Trurnai, 
women are/allowed to dance (Quain, ms.). The Camayura have seven 
different dances. According to Dyott's description (1930, pp. 201-202) 
of a Nahukwa dance, men form two lines lengthwise of the house ; the 
women, two rows at right angles to them. The men hold their hands out- 
stretched and stamp their feet ; each woman rests an arm on the shoulder 
of her companion and swings the right foot back and forth. In another 
Nahukwa dance, witnessed by Von den Steinen, three men stamped and 
whirled rhythmically while an old woman jumped back and forth. In a 
Yaulapiti dance, the men circled counter-clockwise, stamping the right 
foot. Chanting, the women danced outside the circle, arm in arm and palm 




mm^gm ; 

/> >'\)/^jy y n 

d e f 

Figure 42. — Upper Xingii masks, a, Trumai; b, Camayura; c, Aueto; d, Camayura; 
e, Mehinacu; f, Bacdiri. (Redrawn from Steinen, 1894, figs. 118, 112, 314, 113, 
104, 44.) 

to palm with fingers interlocked, taking three steps forward, pausing, and 
stepping back (Petrullo, 1932 a, p. 142). During another feast, clowns 
with big flageolets marched grotesquely from hut to hut, entering each 
while the women pretended to be frightened (Petrullo, 1932 a, p. 139). 
Von den Steinen described a Bacdiri ceremony that is possibly related to 
the last. Men gathered in the guest house and each, wearing a dance 
costume, rushed out in turn to enter some hut, from which he returned 
with an offering of food. Quain (ms.) says that although Trumai singing 
was not polyphonic, "its modulations seemed like classical harmony." 

Musical instruments. — All Indians dance with rattling anklets or 
necklaces of shells and seeds. Gourd rattles are common among the 
Bacdiri, Nahukzva, and Camayura, and tortoise-shell rattles among the 
Nahukwa (Steinen, 1894). The Aueto have rattles made of an egg 


fastened to a stick. There are also bottle-shaped rattles which are beaten 
(stamping tube?) against the ground. 

Two drums made of hollow tree trunks resting on the ground were 
found in a Bacdiri and a Camayura village (Steinen, 1894). 

Wind instruments are common. Whistles consist of palm nuts pierced 
with one or two holes. Several types of small and large panpipes are used. 
Suya "panpipes," which have three tubes and are 5 feet (1.5 m.) long, 
have air ducts and reeds, and may really be three clarinets bound together. 
A widely used instrument is the flageolet, about 2^ to 3 feet (75 to 90 
cm.) long, with four holes and an air duct through the wax of the mouth- 
piece, which is sometimes beveled. The flageolet is usually made of a 
solid piece of bamboo, but sometimes two longitudinal halves are glued 
together with wax and wrapped with cotton or bark. The Bacdiri play 
two flageolets in unison (Steinen, 1886), and the Nahukwa and Yaulapiti 
play three that are attached together and painted red and black (Dyott, 
1930; Petrullo, 1932 a). Von den Steinen mentioned a toneless rhythm 
trumpet made of bamboo without holes and with a calabash resonator at 
the bottom. 

Drinks and narcotics. — Von den Steinen emphasized the lack of 
fermented drinks as proof of the primitive state of the area. When he 
was on the upper Xingu River, all men smoked, except those of a single 
Bacdiri village on the Batovi River. Tobacco leaves were dried between 
two planks and twisted in a spindle-shaped roll. Tobacco rolls similar to 
those described by ancient travelers are still in use. Cigarettes are rolled 
in special leaves and are tied with a bit of grass. Although tobacco has a 
secular use, smoking is frequently associated with magic and ceremonial. 


Shamanism. — Shamanism is said to be uncommon among the Bacdiri 
and Auet'd ; more frequent among the Nahukwa and Mehinacu; and fully 
developed among the Trumai. To become a shaman, one must submit to 
long and complicated trials, including fasting, remaining awake, and self- 
punishment, such as knocking one's head against the hut posts and scar- 
ifying the body (Steinen, 1894). When curing a disease, the Trumai 
chief produced "blubbering noises . . . healing and blowing upon the 
patient with tobacco" (Quain, ms.). The belief in the life-giving property 
of breath is often emphasized by Von den Steinen, who also describes the 
shooting of "magic arrows," consisting of small sticks or cotton threads 
which were believed to cause illness and which the shaman sucked out of 
the body. 

The practice of witchcraft ("okei" in Trumai, Quain, ms.) both for 
benevolent and evil purposes, is widespread. A knowledge of poisons is 
important to the shaman. Some drugs are said to swell the patient's body 


fatally (Quain, ms.) ; others consist of lizards mixed with the blood and 
hair of an enemy (Steinen, 1894). According to the use they make of 
witchcraft, sorcerers are designated "good" or "evil." 

An important culture trait is the magic use of tobacco for "seeing- 
smoking" (Quain, ms.). This narcotic state enables one to receive 
messages, warnings, and visions. According to Von den Steinen, narcosis 
is a privilege of the shaman, who might, in a narcotic state, assume the 
appearance of an animal and travel far away. Quain witnessed an exoteric 
use of the process by the Trumai, among whom "seeing-smoking" might 
be practiced by anyone, though only at night. The natives interpret 
reading as a sort of "seeing-smoking." They also believe in premonitory 
dreams, which the Bacdiri explain as the alleged power of the soul to 
leave the body temporarily during sleep. 

Religious beliefs. — Nothing is known of more elaborate religious be- 
liefs, except that the Trumai are afraid of the rain, which "might kill 
people" (Quain, ms.). They also believe that after death one travels the 
Milky Way, meets many jaguars in the sky, and at last enters the Village 
of the Beyond, where one may fish with poison (Quain, ms.). This state- 
ment is in contradiction to Von den Steinen's opinion that fishing with 
poison was unknown on the upper Xingu River (p. 324). The 
Bacdiri distinguish between man's two souls, "ghost" and "cover." When 
the "ghost" leaves the body it undergoes consecutive transformations, be- 
coming first a wandering soul ("kXadopa"), often in the shape of an 
armadillo, and later being liberated, when it climbs to the sky on a cotton 
ladder and joins its ancestors in its final state called "yamiira" (Abreu, 

Supernatural beliefs are probably associated with the custom, followed 
by most tribes, of raising a harpy eagle (Harpia harpy ja) in a conical 
cage of poles erected in the middle of the village (photograph in Dyott, 
1930, p. 220). The ,bird is carefully fed but is not worshiped. PetruUo 
suggests that it receives its share of all game in exchange for its feathers, 
which are periodically plucked and divided among the men. 

Ceremonials. — The Camayura have special ceremonies for warfare, 
fishing, hunting, and initiation (Steinen, 1894). Among the Trumai, the 
manioc ("ole") ceremony is the most important (Quain, ms.). Several 
peeled poles, each rubbed with white clay, painted in black and red 
designs, and decorated with cotton tufts glued to the top, are set up in the 
plaza so as to form a shrine. Offering of fish cakes (beijii), and other 
kinds of food are placed before the altar, which is sprinkled at intervals 
with manioc soup. The ceremonial is reserved for men and includes 
wrestling matches, songs, and dances, the last similar to those performed 
at a shaman's cures and on other more profane occasions (Quain, ms.). 

Another feast is given after piqui fruit drops, which is the time for 
piercing boys' ears. It is suggested, though not positively established, that 

Plate 27. — Yaulapiti Indians in "woodskins," or bark canoes, (Courtesy 
University Museum, Philadelphia.) 



Plate 28. — Yaulapiti women preparing manioc in pottery vessels. 

University Museum, Philadelphia.) 


Plate 29.— Upper Xingu house frames. Top: Roof of a Naravute house. 
Bottom: Yniilapiti frame. (Courtesy University Museum, Philadelphia.) 

Plate 30. — Naravute and Yaulapiti Indians. Top: Narainde communal house. 
Bottom.: Yaulapiti polygamous family. (Courtesy University Museum, 

Plate 31.— Upper Xingu Indians. Top: Bacairi hunter with carrying t)a,skpt. 
Bottom: Cooiving pots and Auetu grave. (After Steinen, 1894.) 

Plate 32. — Aueto carrying bark canoe. (Aftor Stoiiicn, IS')4.) 

Plate 33.— Upper Xingu Indians. Top: Suya. Bottom: Yaulapiti. (Courtesy 
University Museum, Philadelphia.) 


different tribes are invited to participate in this initiation ceremony. 
The Spear Thrower Feast takes place at the beginning of the rainy 
season. The Naravute told PetruUo that ceremonial weapons are 
divided between two teams which try to strike each other with blunt- 
pointed spears. The spectacle of a similar feast among the Camayura 
was observed by Von den Steinen. Quain mentions a "Kuth" ceremony, 
with wooden symbols which women are forbidden to see. These symbols 
may be bull roarers, of which Von den Steinen describes several types. 
They are swordlike with black and red designs among the Mehinacu, and 
carved in the shape of a fish among the Nahukwa, who have no sexual 
prohibitions regarding them. The Bacdiri call their bull roarers "thunder" 
or "thunderstorm." 


The Bacairi tell of their migration to the earth, because of the high 
mortality in their first homeland, the sky (Steinen, 1894), and of the 
subsequent destruction of the universe by flood and fire and its re- 
creation (Abreu, 1938). The creation myths of the Trumai put several 
characters on the stage, the Crow, Sun, Moon, "Grandfather," and Jaguar 
("Fetde"), father of the Sun (Quain, ms.). An important body of 
Bacdiri myths and tales were recorded by Von den Steinen. Three groups 
may be distinguished. 

(1) The cycle of Keri and Kame. — Keri and Kame, which designate 
two culture heroes, are the Arawakan terms for Sun and Moon, borrowed 
by the Cariban speaking Bacdiri, who have reversed their meaning. Kame, 
the less intelligent and more foolish of the pair, got killed and had to be 
revived by Keri. These culture heroes are not identified with the eponymic 
celestial bodies ; the latter are conceived as balls of feathers, which once had 
been united but which the heroes separated. 

The numerous legends belonging to this cycle tell of an unsuccessful 
attempt by a mythical stranger to make new human beings ; of the birth 
of Keri and Kame from two human bones swallowed by a woman married 
to a jaguar ; of the murder of the pregnant woman by her own mother ; 
of her post-mortem birth of the boys, done by a Jaguar who was her 
uncle ; and of the revenge by the two heroes. From their "masters," they 
received the natural elements, laws and customs, and fundamental items 
of Bacdiri culture, e.g., the hammock from the lizard, cotton from a kind 
of marten (Galictis), tobacco from the electric eel, and manioc from the 
deer. After having saved their tribe on a final occasion, the two heroes 

The Trumai also had tales about the Sun and Moon, in which the Moon 
played the foolish part and had to be saved by its companion (Quain, ms.). 

(2) Animal tales. — ^The cycle of Keri and Kame is the basis for sev- 
eral animal legends. Others, such as the Trumai Tale of the Crow 



(Quain, ms.) and the Bacdiri Tale of the Jaguar and Anteater (Steinen 
1894), are pure animal tales, rather humorous in character. 

(3) Historical legends. — Many details in the cycle of Keri and Kame 
and in other legends are interpretations of the early history of the upper 
Xingu River. The Trumai believe their ancestors to have been aquatic 
animals (Steinen, 1894; Quain, ms.). They explain the cultural diversity 
of the tribes of the upper Xingu River as having resulted from a choice 
of things which the Sun once oflFered people. The Triimai took the bees- 
wax, the Cainayura the bow, the Waura pots, but the White man preferred 
the ax and hence he built an extensive civilization (Quain, ms.). 


According to the Bacdiri, the sky was once in close contact with the 
earth. The Sun and Moon, each a ball of feathers, are hidden under a 
pot when they are not visible and are carried through the sky by animals, 
either slow or fast, depending upon the hour and season. Sometimes the 
Moon is hidden by the body of an animal at work, and then an eclipse 
occurs. Several constellations are identified, chiefly the Pleiades, Orion, 
the Southern Cross, and Gemini. They are said to represent implements, 
plants, foods, and other objects. The Milky Way is compared to a drum 
which contains animals (Steinen, 1894). The Trumai believe that the 
sky is immortal and that it changes its skin like a snake. They also think 
that the visible sun is altogether different from, and is the "pet" of, the 
real sun, which is called by a special name (Quain, ms.). 

All tribes draw geographical maps of the area on the sand. Rivers are 
suggested by zigzags cut by transverse lines for the rapids ; circles repre- 
sent huts, and circles arranged in a ring are villages. As signs to fisher- 
men, drawings of the special kind of fish which is abundant at a certain 
spot are left on the sand bank of the rivers (Steinen, 1886, 1894). 

The Bacdiri have distinct words for the numbers one to three. Three 
is not used frequently, and a combination of the words for one and two is 
often substituted for it. The counting of the Trumai is not perfectly clear, 
but they, as well as the Waura and Camayura, seem to have a distinct 
word for four. Five is expressed by a special word by the Trumai and 
Aueto, while the other tribes use the same word as for "hand." Counting 
above five is done with the help of hands and feet, and numbers above 
five are expressed by combinations of the basic terms. 


Abreu, 1895 (rep. 1938); Dyott, 1929, 1930; Ehrenreich, 1897 a; Fawcett, 1925; 
Hintermann, 1925, 1926; Krause, 1936 a, b, c; 0000; Levi-Strauss, 1943 b; Lima 
Figueiredo, 1939; Meyer, 1897 a, b, c, d, 1900, 1904; Nordenskiold 1930 b; Petrullo, 
1932 a, b; Quain, ms. (n. d.) ; Ranke, 1906; Schmidt, 1902-04, 1905, 1924, 1928; 
Steinen, 1886, 1888, 1892, 1894. 

Part 2. The Tribes of Mato Grosso and Eastern Bolivia 


By Alfred Metraux 


The Paressi of Central Brazil together with the Mojo and Chane repre- 
sent the southernmost branch of the Arazvakan linguistic family.^ They 
occupied in the Mato Grosso an area delimited in the east by the Arinos 
and the Upper Paraguay Rivers, in the west by the Upper Guapore and 
Juruena Rivers, and in the south by lat. 40°30'. 

They were divided into three main groups that were often hostile but 
that had a homogeneous culture and few dialectical differences : ( 1 ) The 
Cashiniti (Kachiniti), scattered along the Soumidoro River, a tributary 
of the Arinos River, and near the headwaters of the Sepotuba and 
Sucuriu-na Rivers (lat. 15° S., long. 58° W.) ; (2) the Uainmre 
(Waimare) , who lived along the upper Rio Verde and Sacre River; (3) 
the Cozarini {Kozdrini) , who occupied the region of the watershed of the 
Juba, Cabacai, Jauru, Guapore, Rio Verde, Papagaio, Burity, and Juruena 
Rivers (lat! 15° S., long. 59° W.).^ 

The Cosarini seem to be a mixed tribe formed by a nucleus of Paressi 
invaders who absorbed and assimilated Indians from other tribes, mainly 
Nambicuara (Guayguakure) . As recently as 1910 when Max Schmidt 
(1914) visited them, the Cosarini still fought the Nambicuara and kid- 
napped the men for slaves and the women for wives. The other Paressi 
looked down on the Cosarini as an inferior branch of their nation and 
called them Cabishi, a term also applied to the Nambicuara of the Serra 
do Norte and to numerous Indians of the Guapore basin. Max Schmidt 
called them Paressi-Cabishi, a name which has been adopted in the 
anthropological literature. 

After 1908, the Paressi were collected by the "Commissao de Linhas 
telegraphicas" in the following settlements : Utiariti, Barao de Cam- 

* Paressi is closer to Mehinakii than to Mojo. 

*The Iranxe (Iranche), who have been classified as a Paressi subtribe, belong according to Max 
Schmidt (1942) to a diflFercnt linguistic group, 



panema, Ponte de Pedra, and Aldeia Ouemada. In 1928, most of the 
remaining Cashiniti and Uatmare lived in Utiariti and Sao Jose. The 
surviving Cozarini were settled near Villa de Mato Grosso and at 

Population. — Pires de Campos (1862) stresses the large population of 
the Paressi and Uaimare in 1718. By 1848, their number had been con- 
siderably reduced through slave raids. The Cashiniti were then estimated 
at 250, the Uaimare at 400, and the Cozarini (Cabishi) at 500. In 1908, 
according to Rondon's census, there were 340 Paressi living in 12 villages 
of which the largest had 57 inhabitants and the smallest 16. In 1937, 
there remained about 150 Paressi. 


The Paressi, under the name of Pareti, are mentioned in connection 
with the first Spanish expeditions to Chiquitos and Mojos. At the begin- 
ning of the I7th century, some conquistadors reached their territory and 
even saw the Serra dos Parecis and the vSerra do Norte. (See Metraux, 
1942, p. 160.) 

The first account of their culture was written in 1723 by the slaver 
Antonio Pires de Campos (1862), who in 1718 had discovered this tribe 
on the highlands beyond the watershed of the Paraguay River. The 
Mdhibarez, undoubtedly identical with the modern Uaimare {Mahim- 
hare), had, according to Pires de Campos, the same culture and the same 
language as the Paressi. Pires de Campos mentions also the wild and 
cannibalistic Cavihi {Cabishi), but it cannot be ascertained whether the 
latter were actually the modern Paressi-Cabishi (Cozarini) . 

During the entire 18th century, the Paressi region was crossed by 
slavers and by adventurers in search of gold or diamond mines. In the 
19th century, the Paressi also were molested by rubber gatherers. Their 
territory was finally opened in 1908 by General Mariano Candido da 
Silva Rondon, who was then the chief of the Commission that built a 
telegraphic line across the Brazilian wilderness. Thanks to Rondon's 
endeavours, the Indians were well treated and were even given the means 
to adjust themselves to modern civilization. So rapid was their assimila- 
tion, that within a few years the Commission could use some Paressi as 
employees, even as telegraphers. Schools were created in several villages 
and many Paressi received White education. By 1928, the Paressi were 
fully acculturated. It is difficult to account for the sharp decline in popu- 
lation which took place after 1910; Max Schmidt (1943, p. 10), however, 
states that many Cozarini fell victims to an influenza epidemic. 


Von den Steinen's chapter about the Paressi in his "Unter den Natur- 
volkem Central Brasiliens" ( 1894) is especially valuable for the creation 


myths it contains, but his information is fragmentary, for the author never 
visited these Indians in their home country. Good data about various 
aspects of Paressi culture appear in Rondon's (1912) reports and in the 
book "Rondonia" written by the Brazilian anthropologist Roquette- Pinto 
(1917, 1938). Max Schmidt (1914, 1943) has written two important 
monographs about this tribe: the first one deals exclusively with the 
Paressi-Cabishi (Cozdrini) ; the more recent one includes a detailed his- 
tory of the Paressi, a summary of their culture, an extensive dictionary of 
their language with grammatical notes, and mythological texts in Paressi. 



Farming. — The 18th-century Paressi, who probably lived somewhat 
north of their present territory, had large fields of maize, beans, sweet 
potatoes, and pineapples. The siliceous plateaus more recently occupied 
by the Paressi are less fertile. Only the thin gallery forests along the 
rivers are well suited for cultivation, hence the dispersion of the fields and 
the frequent shifting of villages. The Paressi cultivate bitter and sweet 
manioc, maize (a red and a yellow variety), beans, sweet potatoes, cara, 
tobacco, and cotton. They supplement their diet with wild food plants, 
such as cashews, jaboticaba, taruma, tucum, wild pineapples, and many 
other species. 

Hunting. — Game is scarce and elusive in the open savannas of the 
territory of the Paressi; these Indians, nonetheless, are good hunters. 
They stalk game with the bow and arrow using portable leaf screens to 
hide themselves. They also shoot from watchposts or organize communal 
drives in which they set fire to the bush. They decoy the game by imitat- 
ing its call or catch it with traps. They have well-trained hunting dogs. 
According to Pires de Campos (1862), the ancient Paressi caught deer, 
rheas, and other animals in pitfalls which they dug within large enclosures 
built between two streams. Max Schmidt (1914) reports that hunters 
destroy the game indiscriminately, but Rondon (1912) states that they 
spare the female rheas during the breeding season. 

Fishing. — Shooting with bow and arrows in flooded areas, drugging 
with timbo, or angling with European hooks are the main fishing methods 
of the Paressi. However, their deep and clear rivers constitute a handicap 
which makes fishing less important here than in the other tropical areas. 

Domestication. — The Paressi are among the few Indians of America 
who practice a primitive form of apiculture. They put swarms of jati bees 
{Trigona jati) in a gourd with two openings, one for the bees and the 
other, sealed with wax, for removing the combs. 

Modern Paressi, besides keeping many wild animals as pets, raise dogs, 
chickens, pigs, and ducks. In 1910, the Cosdrini had only dogs which 
were ill treated and ill fed. 




Figure 43. — Paressi Indians. Top: Decorated posts and bar for testing strength. 
Bottom: Paressi house. (Redrawn from M. Schmidt, 1914, figs. 27, 40.) 


Food preparation. — Meat is roasted on a four-legged babracot; 
manioc is grated on wooden graters, strained through sieves, and roasted 
in clay pans. Maize or manioc is pounded in large, cylindrical wooden 
mortars with wooden pestles. Gourds of all kinds and sizes serve as 
bottles, bowls, and cups. Small mats are used as dishes and fire fans. 


According to Pires de Campos (1862), the ancient Paressi villages 
comprised from 10 to 30 round and oven-shaped huts, from 30 to 40 feet 
(10 to 13 m.) in diameter. 

At the beginning of this century, Paressi villages consisted only of one 
or two communal houses accommodating an average of six families. These 
huts were dome-shaped with an oval ground plan and a thatched roof 
which reached the ground. The frame was made of bent rafters attached 
to a central ridge pole. The lower part of the wall was lined up with 
large pieces of bark. These huts averaged 25 feet (7.6 m.) in length, 
18 feet (5.4 m.) in width, and 12 feet (3.6 m.) in height. Each family 
occupied a space bounded by the rafters. 

Each village had a ceremonial hut, which may be described as a gable 
roof resting on the ground and closed on all sides but for a single door 
shut with a leaf screen. 

Hammocks, which were made of cotton, but sometimes of tucuma fibers, 
were suspended from the rafters and from extra posts, which were often 
decorated with painted motifs (Cosdrini). Such posts were held to be 
animated by spirits that protected the families from thieves. 


Men and women dress today like the Mestizos. Formerly, men went 
naked, but tucked their penis under a few cotton strings threaded with 
beads and tied around the waist. Women wore short, cylindrical, cotton 
skirts, which scarcely covered their lower abdomen (pi. 35, bottom, left). 
Pires de Campos (1862) mentions penis covers (?) and women's skirts 
covered with feathers. Both sexes wore wide garters and anklets, the men 
of cotton, the women's often of rubber. Men use also woven bracelets, 
reinforced with wooden sticks and feather quills. Both sexes took pride 
in owning a great many beads, which they displayed in the form of brace- 
lets or of heavy necklaces suspended crosswise over the chest. 

The only headdresses consisted either of a simple feather circlet mounted 
on a low frame of bamboo strips or of tufts of feathers attached to the 
nape. Feathers were passed through the perforated septum of the nose 
and sticks through the earlobes. In former days, both sexes were tattooed, 
an operation performed by women. The Paressi paint themselves with 
genipa and uinicu. 


According to tradition, Paressi men wore a tonsure in ancient days; 
today they cut their hair around the head. Combs consisted of splinters 
inserted between parallel pieces of bamboo. 


Many Paressi groups lack canoes. They cross rivers buoyed by a 
bundle of burity stems or on tree-trunk bridges. 

The ancient Paressi seem to have built broad paths or even roads to 
connect their villages. 


Basketry. — Some circular sieves and concave trays are made with a 
plain checker weave of bamboo strands. More complicated diagonal pat- 
terns are obtained by using a twilled weave. The finished basket is 
smeared with black pigment which, adhering to the rough sides of the 
strands, causes the design to stand out sharply. The large cylindrical 
carrying baskets represent a third technique : the warp and weft meet at 
right angles and are held in position by extra diagonal strands (pi. 35, 
top, left). 

Spinning and weaving. — Cotton is spun with drop spindles fitted 
with a clay whorl or a fruit. Ropes of tucum fibers are twisted on the 

The loom is of the vertical, or "Arazvak," type. Loincloths, baby slings, 
and bags are made of the entire cylindrical piece of the finished cloth as 
it is removed from the loom. For other objects, such as arm bands and 
belts, the warp is cut before the fabric is completed, so that the ends are 
always fringed. 

Featherwork. — Ancient Paressi excelled in making feather fabric, 
probably in the same techniques as Mojo feather mosaics. 

Pottery. — Unlike most Arazvakan tribes, the Paressi have a very crude 
pottery, though they might have had a better ceramic in the past. Clay is 
tempered with the ashes of the katipe bark and a ferruginous powder, 
common in the region. 

Rubber. — Rubber balls are made by coating a concave piece of wood 
with the latex of the niangabeira {Hancornia speciosa). The edges of 
the membrane are glued together by pressing them with the fingers. Air 
is blown into the ball through a small hole which is patched with a thin 
membrane. Several additional coatings of latex give strength to the ball. 
The rubber bands which women wore around their legs were made on a 
a cylindrical piece of wood. 

Weapons. — In 1718, Pires de Campos saw among the Paressi bows and 
arrows, flat swords of hardwood, and short spears. Bows and arrows fell 
into disuse soon after guns were introduced. The bows of the Cosarini 
have a semicircular cross section and shoulders are cut at both ends for 

Plate 35. — Paressi life. (Courtesy American Museum of Natural History.) 


the three-ply cotton string. There are three kinds of arrows : those tipped 
with a long sharp rod, bird arrows made of a simple bamboo stem with 
the root forming the knobbed head, and whistling arrows. The feathering 
is of the cemented type. It is lacking on fishing arrows. 

Paressi are acquainted with curare, which they extract from shavings 
of the bark of a creeper {Strychnos toxijera). Other ingredients added to 
the poison have magical rather than practical usefulness. Curare is used 
on ordinary hunting arrows. 


The political unit of the Paressi is the independent village, which is 
under the direction of a chief and of a shaman. Often one man fills both 
roles. Among the Cosdrini, chieftainship is transmitted to the eldest son, 
who enjoys special privileges even when he is only the heir apparent. It 
is remembered that in the past some Paressi chiefs ruled over minor chiefs 
in other villages. The functions of the chiefs are not fully described in 
our sources, but we know that they lead all the ceremonies and that they 
receive visitors. 

Among the Cosdrini, heads of families control a class of dependents 
that includes many adopted captive boys. These servants open clearings, 
carry wood to the village, build houses, and give their masters all their earn- 
ings (M. Schmidt, 1914, p. 188). 

The inhabitants of different villages visit one another frequently and 
maintain active commercial relations. The whole territory of these Indians 
is crisscrossed by paths leading from one settlement to another. 


Birth. — It is customary for a woman during childbirth to kneel on the 
ground and to lean against another woman, generally her mother. Until 
the infant's navel cord drops oflF, both parents remain at home. Moreover, 
during his seclusion, the father may eat only manioc wafers.^ When the 
child is about 3 years old, it receives the name of one of its grandparents 
(Steinen, 1894,p.436). 

Marriage. — Monogamy prevails now, but formerly sororal polygyny 
appears to have been common. When native traditions were still unim- 
paired, small children were often bethrothed to each other by their parents. 
Sometimes an adult man reared a girl from childhood and married her 
when she reached puberty. 

Marriage was considered sealed after the bridegroom had made a small 
present to his bride's parents and after the latter had brought the girl to 
his hammock (Steinen, 1894, p. 434). Residence was customarily matri- 

* A father who did not observe the rules of the couvade faced the danger of being killed by bush 




[B.A.B. Bull. 143 

local, except for chiefs who were privileged to take their wives to their own 

Death. — Toward the end of the 19th century, the dead were buried in 
their huts with food and all their possessions, their heads turned toward the 
east. Relatives of the deceased remained indoors for 6 days, observing 
a rigorous fast. On the seventh day, they rubbed their bodies with a plant 
juice mixed with urucii. The house of the dead was abandoned temporarily 
or permanently. 

The souls of the dead were believed to